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Net gains for The Hour

George Stroumboulopoulos has been quietly amassing a devout Internet following that reaches beyond Canada's borders with his low-key CBC talk show, "The Hour."


George Stroumboulopoulos has been quietly amassing a devout Internet following that reaches beyond Canada's borders with his low-key CBC talk show, "The Hour."

The show has been getting millions of hits on YouTube since the public broadcaster started showcasing its content on the video-sharing site last fall. A Facebook group devoted to "The Hour" has members from as far afield as Australia and New Zealand.

"The Hour" is also the most popular show on CBC.ca, is routinely in the top 5 most popular video podcasts on iTunes.ca and was recently voted the top video podcast of the year in Canada by iTunes.

Strombo, as he's affectionately known in Canada, is now beginning to get routinely recognized in the United States.

"I get stopped in the States all the time by people who watch it online," Stroumboulopoulos said Thursday. "In Utah, in California, in New York - it's happening more and more often."

The genial Strombo says his American fans like that his show is almost pure talk, with guests running the gamut from Hollywood celebrities to marquee politicians. He's sat down to chat with everyone from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Vincente Fox to the Foo Fighters, John Cusack and Kid Rock.

"When we conceived of this show we wanted it to be like a dinner conversation at Thanksgiving," Stroumboulopoulos said.

"Every other late-night talk show that exists is a strict comedy show first, but we're not - we put a lot of work into the interviews because we're curious people and we have really in-depth conversations with our guests. And that has caught people's attention online."

The show's producers have had discussions with international broadcasters interested in picking up "The Hour," but the 35-year-old Stroumboulopoulos says online is rapidly becoming king, not traditional TV platforms.

"Part of the reason we did this show is for the kind of people who didn't really watch TV like this before, so they're not going to come to television - they're going to watch it however they want," he said.

"Ten years from now, the cable channel isn't going to be nearly as important as the domain name. CBC.ca, that's the television channel of the future. We don't worry about where people are watching us, as long as they're watching us."

Stroumboulopoulos says he continues to be amazed at how YouTube is revolutionizing the broadcast industry.

"In the way that you used to listen to your older brother and sister's record collection, YouTube is essentially your older brother and sister's record collection for all sorts of content, and it's how people are now discovering stuff," he said.

"We're in a very curious time, when people want to know about a lot of (stuff), so they YouTube, and they've found us that way. It wasn't intentional on our part. We just made our show and people came to it, and YouTube has really facilitated that."

 
 
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