McManus: CBS Misplayed Basketball Video on YouTube
July 16, 2006 3:23 PM
In the “hindsight is always 20/20” department, Sean McManus, president of CBS News and Sports, admitted Saturday that the network may have reacted too strongly in forcing the video sharing site YouTube from taking down a CBS News clip earlier this year.The clip featured an upstate New York high schooler with autism having the basketball game of his life. The video became an online sensation and featured multiple shots of the student’s unbelievable performance. The story became so big President Bush visited with the high schooler. “You’ve got to find the fine line between the great promotion YouTube gives a network, and protecting our rights,” McManus said. “Our inclination now is, the more exposure we get from clips like that, the better it is for CBS News and the CBS television network, so in retrospect we probably should have embraced the exposure, and embraced the attention it was bringing CBS, instead of being parochial and saying ‘let’s pull it down.’”
CBS Sports has learned several things about online video in recent months, including a lesson or two from its move this past March to offer video streams of NCAA final mens basketball games on its Web site for free, he said. One thing he now knows: College ball is unique from other sports. “So much of takes place on Thursday and Friday afternoon,” he said. “So much of it is regionalized, unless you have a satellite, you can’t see the other games. The most important lesson is, and was, if you offer it for free a lot of people will use it. We did the year before on subscription, for, I think, $14 or $15, and we got 12,000 people to subscribe. We did it for free and we had millions of people, the biggest Internet event in history." But for non-tournament events like football, McManus is concerned about cutting into on-air ratings.“On the tournament, we felt it was additive, and not cannibalized,” he said. “NFL is probably too risky. That’s why there’s DirectTV.”With football on either broadcast or cable in prime time four nights a week this season, McManus said Sunday afternoon is still the place to be.
“We’ll find out more after this season,” McManus said at a CBS Sports/CSTV open bar at press tour Saturday.
“The package on the NFL network, I don’t think will cannibalize the network ratings. I still believe the single most important football window is on Sunday afternoon, either on Fox on CBS. That’s the game that always gets the best ratings of the week…the fact there’s an extra game in prime time, I think it will potentially affect our schedule marginally, but I feel good about our schedule.”