CNET Won’t Be New Media Kick in the Pants for CBS

CBS is bragging that when it acquires CNET, as it announced it would do this morning for $1.8 billion in cash, it will instantly become “one of the 10 most popular Internet companies in the U.S., with a combined 54 million unique users per month, and approximately 200 million users worldwide.” The funny thing is, in terms of online video, I actually think CBS is way ahead of its supposedly tech-savvy adopted kid.

Though CBS’ partnership-driven Audience Network super-distribution strategy isn’t quite as cool as Hulu’s embeds for everyone, the network does have some original ideas about getting TV online and some gumption about executing them. It has had great success with distributing March Madness basketball games online, seeing visitors up 164 percent this year and bringing in $23 million in revenue. And CBS’ acquisition of the Wallstrip/MobLogic and its deal announced yesterday with lonelygirl15-makers EQAL provide the complement, putting the Internet into entertainment.

CNET, on the other hand, only added embeds in April of 2008. That’s less than a month ago. Its original tech news and reviews original video content have languished on its site, inside a hard-to-use player. And the new embeds seemed to be disabled for every video I tried this morning. As for super-distribution? CNET’s YouTube channel has a measly 1,226 subscribers.

Over at GigaOM, Om is taking a longer view, admitting CNET’s flaws but it’s “easily fixable and had a great brand.” “I like the big, bold bet,” he says.