"We saw a huge amount of interest," said Larry Kramer, president of CBS Digital Media, in a session on digital media during CBS' part of the Television Critics Association. "We closed some deals. But I don't think anybody knows yet how much of what we do is going to be part of the [TV] upfront."
Early predictions speculated that as much as 2 percent or $200 million would shift from TV to the Internet and other digital areas during TV's advertising upfront market last month. Few have been able to determine exactly how much money moved.
Long-term, Kramer doesn't think TV's upfront sales timetable works well for the Internet. "We sell in different sales cycles," he says. "We are not used to having an upfront for the Internet." Overall, he added: "We're having a great year. Our advertising revenue on all our platforms was substantially higher than a year ago."
The session had CBS crowing that this past March's NCAA tournament was a watershed mark for its digital properties. CBS said one of its biggest discoveries was that its digital efforts had no negative effect on CBS' main TV platform.
CBS is leaning more toward programming deals that are ad-supported, rather than on a per-fee basis. Kramer touted the success of its ad-supported innertube Web site, which just launched next-day re-runs of CBS's summer reality show "Big Brother." "You'll see a lot more from us for ad-supported video on demand," he says. "As a mass medium, we are comfortable with the ad model. Obviously, you get a big uptick in a new medium when you offer it for free."