Blog Post

It’s Official: CBS Launches Own Distribution Network; Includes Domestic And International

As we reported first this morning, CBS has made a large number of new online deals and is grouping them together in what is being called the CBS Interactive Network. The official announcement is out and CBS is describing it as “the most widely distributed professional content provider on the Web.” I just got off the phone with Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive, and will have more from that soon. In the meantime, a few details:
— All content will be free and ad-supported.
— As was the case with the NBCU-News Corp. JV, CBS is promoting the plusses for the ad community. The release includes statements from Rino Scanzoni, chief investment Officer with WPP’s Group M, and Curt Hecht, chief digital officer at GM Planworks. Hecht: “”This is definitely a progressive approach to content distribution, not only due to its scope, but also because it allows consumers to share and engage with content.”
— Akamai will provide the content delivery network.
— No financial details but I’m told by one partner that the 90-10 split the WSJ reported earlier and that the JV is getting is very close.
— Mobile is not included in these deals but CBS is open to it, according to Smith.
Content: The content includes a rotating list of current news, sports and entertainment and will include classic programming from the CBS library. All content will be delivered domestically but only clips and sports full-length programming internationally.
Distributors: Some of the sites are usual suspects — MSN and AOL already have a deal with NBC-News Corp. JV. Joost has a deal with Viacom. But some are new — or first-timers. An executive from one of those told me: “These deals aren’t great from a financial perspective, but they enhance the user experience. The content is as proprietary as it gets so you gotta have it or you risk losing traffic to other distribution partners that carry it. The networks are raising the bar by hand-selecting a few partners to promote their content. This can leave the smaller players in a tough spot.” That goes a long way to explaining the revenue splits.
AOL: Will be distributed at video.aol.com and across AOL’s network. User’s will be able to play videos without opening new windows. AOL is positioning this as enhancing their own one-stop shop for video.
Microsoft: Will be on MSN Video through the MSN Video Player. MSN Video is described as “one of the leading licensed content sites on the internet” and Kevin Johnson, president, platforms and services division, makes a point of saying “safe and legal.”
CNET Networks: TV.com will create an interactive community for CSI.
Comcast: Content will appear across the company’s entertainment sites, most notably Comcast.net and the upcoming Fancast. It is the first public content deal for Fancast.
Joost: CBS will have channels. No real details.
Bebo: No details.
Brightcove: Will feature CBS channels on Brightcove.com. Users will be able to remix and share through their own Brightcove.com channels. Brightcove will provide full-screen “theater-mode” viewing for long-form content.
Netvibes: CBS will have four “universes” on the new Netvibes Universe Network — CSTV, CBS News, ShowBuzz and SportsLine. CBS content also will be published on the Netvibes Ecosystem. Netvibes claims to cross 150-plus countries and 80 languages.
Sling Media: Sling Media had a small deal for its Clip+Sling that was announced by CBC CEO Leslie Moonves at CES. This is much broader, covering full-length as well as clips on Sling’s upcoming video portal and its enhances SlingPlayer software. Sling plans to integrate it into SlingCatcher as well.
Veoh: CBS will have branded, customized channels. Shows will be available in “full-screen, DVD-quality format.’