Hulu Anyone? CBS Eyes Web Growth

CBS Interactive president Quincy Smith and his team may be focusing on how to monetize the social-networking craze, but he has hardly lost sight of Hulu.

Speaking Tuesday, the day before the NBC Universal-News Corp. venture went live, Smith reiterated that he is talking to the two Hulu partners all the time but declined to comment directly on whether CBS may join the fray.

“We think the world of them,” he added, but “we don’t discuss any negotiations.”

Smith addressed a gathering of media members at CBS headquarters in Los Angeles to outline the accomplishments and strategies of the CBS Audience Network, which CBS said has serviced 193 million video streams to viewers since its launch last year.

But calling video streams a “check the box” strategy, Smith and his team said they are focused on marrying the CBS assets with the social-networking craze -- to get viewers to use the CBS Audience Network as a place to not only view clips, but then to discuss and share them.

Noting that sports has been one of the most successful aspects of CBS’ online play, Smith’s team is also looking for ways to mimic the success of fantasy sports online in other areas.

He added that they are trying to figure out, “What is the fantasy equivalent for entertainment?”

As the company continues to explore those avenues, Smith did not rule out continuing to grow through acquisition. “Heck no, we are always open,” he acknowledged.

Smith also said that while online CPMs (cost per thousand homes) are currently in the $20-plus range and beat the broadcast network, that number will come down as volume increases. He did say that for now, the CBS Audience Network’s current inventory is sold out.

Smith also put the average user of the CBS Audience Network at 38 years old, roughly 15 years younger than that of the CBS broadcast network.