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datvWith more content making its way from the small screen to your computer screen, it was only a matter of time before television executives realized the number of viewers watching a show on the Internet is probably important too.

At the OMMA Global conference in Hollywood yesterday, CBS Interactive’s vice president and chief marketing officer, Patrick Keane, suggested that perhaps shows should combine television and Internet ratings, reports Online Media Daily.

The case Keane cited was CBS’s show “Jericho,” which was once — and still is — near cancellation. The show’s 4.2 rating (meaning 4.2 percent of homes with televisions in the U.S. were tuned in — more here) is hardly stellar. However, when factoring in the audience watching it online, the rating jumps almost a full point to 5.1. This difference can literally make or break a show.

Another example is NBC’s hit show “The Office.” That show was not always a hit and was, in fact, teetering on cancellation when NBC saw an explosion in popularity via Apple’s iTunes store. That audience has since helped the show translate into a blockbuster on the network as well.

A combination rating would seem to make sense on the surface, but monetization remains somewhat of an issue for online programming — and a show’s life or death naturally boils down to money. iTunes offers direct revenues to networks, but NBC backed away because it felt it was getting a raw deal (somewhat ironic given the above-mentioned salvation of “The Office” via iTunes).

For streaming video, newer services such as Hulu (our coverage) offer a nice online experience with advertisements that are not too intrusive, but the jury is still out on whether it will succeed or not.

Going the other way, a show that originated online, “Quarterlife,” was not able to translate its online success into viewership on a network. The show was yanked after just one airing on NBC last month (our coverage).

[photo: flickr/*USB*]

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