CBS Looks to Boost Live on Letterman’s Live Audience With Interactive Features

Online concert series now offers multiple camera angles

CBS this week implemented a handful of new interactive features to its Live on Letterman online concert program in an effort to boost live viewership.

Viewers watching the concerts live can now switch between two camera angles, share select screenshots of the show via social media and even vote to choose the artist's closing song. The new features were made available for the first time during two Live on Letterman concerts this week, one by John Mayer and another by John Legend. CBS announced the features on Aug. 8.

Each Live on Letterman concert is streamed on CBS.com and Vevo, and the shows are then made available on demand on those properties. In fact, on demand is responsible for the bulk of the Live on Letterman video views, according to Marc DeBevoise, evp and gm, entertainment, sports and news, CBS Interactive.

So it's not surprising that the new interactive features are only available during the live shows. But in addition to driving more live viewing, CBS sess the new offerings as a way to increase viewer engagement and improve on the program each season DeBevoise said. Asked if he is satisfied with the program's live numbers, DeBevoise said, "Yes, but I'm also never satisfied."

CBS did not release live numbers for the concerts this week, but a network representative claimed the John Mayer performance was one of the program's "top streamed shows." Since 2009, the Live on Letterman series has attracted 185 million views between on demand and live over the course of about 60 concerts, according to CBS.

For the most part, the new features are pretty slick. The overall sound and video quality are high, and the ability to choose between camera angles is a nice touch to make the online experience a bit more immersive. But in my stream, at least, the alternative camera view—which shows the live concert in a thumbnail-sized window below the larger window—seemed to lag several seconds behind (this could have been a CBS issue, an issue with my browser, my Web connection—and any number of variables). CBS said it did not receive reports of similar issues regarding the functionality of the camera options.

The screenshot below gives you a sense of the how the multiple camera angles are set up:

CBS hasn't announced the next performers on the Live on Letterman series, but the network said it has a couple of concerts slated for September.

Watch John Mayer's set below, via CBS: