According to this press release, one month after striking a deal with YouTube, clips from CBS are among the most-viewed on the video sharing site (nearly 30 million views since Oct 18).

CBS has three of the top 25 most viewed videos this month (Nov.1–17), including clips from CBS’s Tuesday night hit drama NCIS, Late Show with David Letterman, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and The Early Show.

Ratings for Letterman and Craig Ferguson are up 5% and 7% respectively during the same period.

Now, I don’t want to upset any naysayers – but could the monetization of YouTube be at hand? Could we – gasp – be seeing the model emerge that’s going to pay for their massive delivery (bandwidth) costs?

It’s funny, but the whole scenario reminds me of something called “TV”, where delivery and infrastructure costs are huge (all those brick & mortar TV stations, all those unionized cameramen) but very little is passed on to the consumer. Revenue is generated through partnerships with people who want to use the delivery method to communicate their message to the audience in the hopes that the audience will then consume their product (they’re called “advertisers”). Big ad dollars during popular shows help TV networks pay for programming that’s less popular, but watched by many (a la the Long Tail).

And the biggest YouTube liability everyone’s chattering about – those pending lawsuits with all the big content companies? In light of these numbers I feel comfortable saying they’re primarily leverage to negotiate better distribution deals.

(And now I must go watch the Letterman interview with Borat – 1,424,701 views and counting…)

Thanks to Delaney at Two Point Touch for the heads up about the CBS press release.