CBS Rolls Out Classic TV Online

NEW YORK CBS has begun syndicating several classic series, including Star Trek and Melrose Place, across the CBS Audience Network.

The distribution network, launched last year with big-name partners such as AOL, MSN, Comcast and CNET, now delivers full-length episodes of a growing library of CBS prime-time shows on over 300 sites, including hits like Survivor and CSI. Now, CBS is reaching into the past to expand this offering, adding full-length episodes of shows going as far back as the 1960s, including The Twilight Zone, Hawaii Five-O and MacGyver.

CBS plans to add more shows to its network, which also features video upstarts like Joost and Veoh, in coming months, according to officials. “CBS’s commitment and ability to move quickly and aggressively to monetize and distribute content online is awesome,” said CBS Interactive president Quincy Smith.

The CBS Audience network, along with Hulu — NBC Universal and News Corp.’s much-hyped joint venture — is at the forefront on an industry-wide trend towards wide-open video distribution.

However, to date, it’s been unclear how consumers are responding to the ability to stream their favorite TV shows in non-TV-centric environments. Neither CBS nor Hulu  released much in the way of performance metrics on either venture, and third-party measurement firms such as Nielsen Online and comScore have yet to develop standard means of tracking video usage across multiple sites at once, said industry executives.