Last Friday, we posted the latest video from Katie Couric's YouTube channel and, in addition to noting how much fun the CBS News crew looked like they were having on Super Tuesday, we wondered a bit about why CBS News was creating content to be broadcast exclusively on an unmonetized platform, and why it wasn't promoting it on its own web properties. We asked CBS News, and they very kindly provided us with some answers explaining their goals with the YouTube channel, and the Super Tuesday video. Here's the video to refresh your memory:
Note that I sent the questions last Friday, March 7th, and since then the numbers for the video have obviously climbed (it was since featured on HuffPo and TV Newser). CBS News responded with all the information yesterday, provided by spokesperson Jennifer Farley, who very kindly collected it from the various departments involved. Here are their responses to the questions I sent:
The most recent video ("Behind The Scenes: Super Tuesday") presents the group in a really positive light, and seems like a combination of a behind-the-scenes video and promotional video. It's obviously been professionally produced and some time went into its creation (lots of edits etc.). What is the aim in putting it out there?
The idea for Katie's YouTube channel was her own. The videos are organic as they provide an unscripted venue for both new and loyal CBS News viewers to grab a behind-the-scenes peek at television journalism. The production levels have varied: Katie sometimes shoots the video herself, some videos have been roughly edited on a laptop and others have been produced in a more sophisticated way.
Is one of the goals to underscore that CBS News is a happy, upbeat place to work and that Katie is a well-liked leader, as opposed to some reports about workplace morale?
They show working journalists in their environment and the videos speak for themselves — clearly people here are enjoying their work.
So far the video only has 321 views [Ed. As of Friday, March 7, 2008]* and it's been up for two days. I know that you are only showing the video exclusively on the YouTube channel. Why are you limiting those videos to the YouTube channel? I didn't see it linked anywhere on CBS News - not Couric & Co. nor in the videos section - why are you keeping that content off your own site?
The Super Tuesday entry is at 7,400 and counting.* The total views for the entire project are 148,100 and counting. The most popular have been "Global Warming" (25,000 views) and "Shuttle Ride" (19,000 views). The channel is a fun and innovative way to reach a new audience. No one else is doing exactly this and it may be an idea with lots of possibilities going forward.
Are there any plans in place to get this stuff seen? Surely you can't be doing all this work for the sake of 321 views.
The overall views are in the hundreds of thousands and the work is fast, a lot of fun for us and, we hope, for the YouTube viewer as well.
What's the overall purpose of Katie's YouTube channel?
The videos are intended to be informative, insightful and at times lighthearted. The aim isn't to push and promote these videos aggressively - rather it's to make them available for people to come across organically. Some of Katie's YouTube segments over the past year have garnered millions of views, while others have thousands or hundreds. We're committed to extending Katie and the CBS News brand online by making content widely available on CBSNews.com, YouTube and across the CBS Audience Network.
Why the complete separation of the YouTube channel from CBSNews.com? Why no mention of it anywhere, why no link to it, why isn't Katie directing her online viewers there?
Most of the content on Katie's channel is on CBSNews.com. This is not unlike programming for other channels, such as CBS News Mobile, which has CBS News content that's not on CBSNews.com or YouTube, and vice versa. One size does not fit all. Content varies just as users do on different destination sites. It's about the right content for the right audience. As for promotion, YouTube users know how to find Katie. They don't need us telling them.
*NB: These questions were put to CBS News on Friday, March 7th shortly before the above-referenced post was published; as of publication of this post, the clip has been viewed 8,284 times.