Why do networks still refuse to live stream their shows?

Cody Brown
Sep 11, 2015 · 3 min read

For the past few days I’ve been trying to catch Colbert’s new show. I read some good recaps but finally caved last night when I saw people tweeting about his emotional interview with Joe Biden. But the tweets didn’t have links, how do you watch the late show when its late?

Google-ing “Biden Colbert interview” didn’t give me much of anything. Then I thought, oh! CBS is a public free to air transmission for anyone with an antenna, I bet its on their site!

But… no. All of the episodes on www.colbertlateshow.com are old. Biden is nowhere to be found. But what about the app?! Maybe the app is different?! Well… this is what the app looks like.

It takes some intensive Googling but eventually I find a partial pixelated version and I watch that.

This clip was eventually taken down at the request of one of CBS lawyers but dam. It’s really good. It’s intimate and emotional, it’s one of the most refreshing political interviews I’ve seen in months. This is going to be one of many for Colbert. His voice is resonant with the demographic CBS pines for and he has an amazing lineup on the books. But how do I become a new fan of The Late Show if it’s this absurd to watch online?

This is a choice that CBS is actively deciding to make. If you’re up late online, the only way to watch The Late Show is through piracy. Why are they doing it?

I’m sure there is an actual reason. CBS is a maze of an institution. There are probably conflicting contracts and departments. But who cares? This is their problem.

This is what TV behavior looks like for those under 34.

Here’s a litmus test for Leslie Moonves, Nina Tassler, and the executives who work at CBS, two simple questions.

  1. Are you technically capable of live broadcasting & embedding The Late Show?
  2. Do you think you can profit from broadcasting this show online?

If your answer is, ‘sure, but maybe later’, then it’s time for you to do what Letterman did. Retire. Make room for someone else. Someone willing to do the grueling institutional work to make the obvious happen.

CBS’s claim as America’s Most Watched Network is only true if you pretend The Internet doesn’t exist. But it does, and everyday the claim gets more fragile. Colbert is in a unique position to be a generational bridge for CBS. All CBS needs is to make it easy for a younger generation to watch him. So far, they are failing.

<don’t imagine they will, but will fill in anything that @cbs has to say in response to this here>

Tweet @codybrown or send me an email codyvbrown@gmail.com


Cody Brown

Written by

working on something new. trying to make the internet more sane and cinematic. previously, co-founder of @scrollkit (acquired by WordPress).


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