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CBS Eyes YouTube Groove

It's bigger than Mentos and Diet Coke. It's bigger than rock bands on treadmills, Renetto, or teenagers on the lam. It's CBS (NYSE: CBS  ) ! The Tiffany Network is finding that it pays to be a sponsored supporter of Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) YouTube site.

In its first month of submitting clips from its hit shows, the 328 videos uploaded by CBS have generated 29.2 million views. That works out to an average of 857,000 daily page views since CBS launched its own channel on the site last month. The broadcasting giant issued the press release touting its initial success yesterday, so it's a fair bet that CBS has now lapped the 30-million-view mark. Clips of David Letterman's interview of Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen and a titillating catfight segment on NCIS have generated more than a million views apiece in November alone.

CBS finding success on a platform like YouTube, which is often praised as an anti-corporate democratization site, isn't really a surprise. CBS videos are featured prominently, and whether they show the network's Craig Ferguson ripping into Kevin Federline or a college hoops buzzer-beater, they're a topical, timely draw. General Electric's (NYSE: GE  ) NBC has also been a YouTube partner, promoting new shows like 30 Rock and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. However, NBC only has 74 videos on the site and has acquired less than a quarter of the 22,776 channel subscribers boasted by CBS.

The revealing admission here is that ratings at the nighttime shows CBS has been promoting through the brief clips are soaring since the YouTube experiment began in mid-October. The media giant claims that Late Show with David Letterman has seen its ratings rise by 5% (or 200,000 viewers) in recent weeks, while The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson has seen its audience spike 7% higher. CBS doesn't believe YouTube is the only factor helping ratings come around, but it is clearly helping.

That should be a lesson to the media companies that have YouTube in their crosshairs: You have every right to crack down on copyright infringement, but don't dismiss YouTube and its growing community as an audience that should be angered instead of appeased.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz grew up on some of the CBS classics, although he will admit he doesn't watch a whole lot of the network these days. Where have you gone, Ray Romano? He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.TheFool has a disclosure policy.

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