Everyone’s weighed in on CBS’ $1.8 billion acquisition of CNET, but no one’s really talking about how the deal impacts their web video efforts. Liz thinks CBS is hipper than CNET when it comes to web video, but how will the two companies join forces?
We called up CBS Interactive President Quincy Smith to talk about online video’s role in the acquisition (we even snuck in a question about CNET’s lack of embeds), and while we had him, about what to expect from CBS’s new partnership with EQAL to Lonleygirlize the network’s shows.
As I’ve learned before, Smith talks fast — real fast — but I’m pretty sure my cramped fingers got everything in its right place.
NewTeeVee: Will you keep the CNET brand name?
Quincy Smith: We have no intention of getting rid of the CNET brand name. CBS prides itself on being a collection of brands.
NewTeeVee: What role did CNET’s video offerings play in CBS’s decision to acquire the company?
Smith: Not a lot of people know they put out more video than Comcast. There’s a lot of high-end production value — a lot. One of the things that has changed in the last six months is that monetization is moving beyond search and social networks and into video monetization.
NewTeeVee: What role do you foresee CNET video having within CBS? What opportunities are there?
Smith: I think it’s a great combination with our original web assets along with Eyelab, which clips our content into bite-sized elements. There’s other reasons: to leverage the great talent they have on the network. It’s premium content, but it’s premium content that they create and they get paid for it. CNET is more than text — they push out a lot more video.
NewTeeVee: We’ve heard CSI and Dexter will be the first shows participating in your new partnership with EQAL. Can you explain a bit more about what the EQAL-created “brand extensions” will look like?
Smith: So far I’ve read rumors about CSI and Dexter. I can’t comment on specific shows. We’re keeping it pretty closes to the vest; we want to remain mysterious. [EQAL is] involved at the script level and will get involved with writing for each of them. What happens is that in the upfronts we get pilots; now we have to go out and script out the episodes for the season — interactive is at that table as well.
That was the whole reason of the deal that they get at that level. All the CBS producers are interested in where the web can be complimentary and expand the show experience to Internet and mobile. To do that you make sure you have people who really understand the web who can get involved with the writers, producers and showrunners.
NewTeeVee: Can you be more specific about what those brand extensions will look like?
Smith: Lost had it down pretty good in terms of smaller episodes. You can still enjoy TV in that vacuum and you watch online as well and you get to appreciate more as a fan.
For example, let’s say you’re watching a crime drama. A guy walks into the morgue and hands another guy a piece of paper. Online there could be eight minutes of content around that piece of paper, but they didn’t make it so inside so that hopefully someone watching finds it intriguing enough to watch the TV show.
NewTeeVee: Will you please make CNET embed more?
Smith: I don’t want to answer for CNET. If we can help convince them to embed, we’re embed all the way.