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Viral Video Becomes TV Development Tool

Variety.com reports that after years of the Internet and videogames siphoning young men from television, networks are employing the tactics and services of sites like YouTube to win them back.

With viral videos and user-generated content populating the Web, the new philosophy among TV execs is this: Let the audience dictate what's hot. With the explosion of guy-oriented Web sites like YouTube, Break.com and Heavy.com -- a mix of amateur video and clips ripped from other media -- it's no wonder that programming execs have begun treating the viral video portals as "development tools."

The trend is significant because men in the 18-34 bracket are notoriously difficult to attract. Even guy-oriented shows like "The Office" and "My Name Is Earl" can't crack this season's top 10 shows in the demo. That's why scrappy cablers are eagerly trying to tap into the even scrappier sensibilities of the online world. The one cloud hanging over the phenom is the issue of copyright. But the promotional benefits thus far seem to outweigh the costs.

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