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CBS’ outdoor division has announced a new option for their billboard advertisers today. The program is called txt2go and allows advertisers to place a sms code on their advertisements that viewers can enter into their mobile device to gain access to something from the advertiser.
Jodi Senese, Executive Vice President, Marketing, CBS Outdoor said, “…if someone is interested in a product or service advertised they can receive a coupon, free merchandise or another offer simply by texting in a short code, giving the company ongoing communication with an interested consumer.”
Mobile technology provider Rip Road will serve the text messaging portion of the advertisement. Campaigns start at $225 for 500 SMS interactions. I’ve always pushed for every offline ad to have some way to get users and/or viewers online. It’s a mistake to run a campaign in a magazine, newspaper or on a billboard without some online call to action.
It will be interesting to see if the CBS billboards in Times Square and around NYC start to feature SMS codes as part of this program.
Interactive congolmerate CBS has announced the launch of “social viewing rooms” today. These rooms combine videos (from CBS) plus chat and polls. So basically if you remember IRC and slap a video window on the side, you have this new concept from CBS. The idea is smart, the longer people remain within the CBS framework, the more ads they can serve up and generate more interaction with their users.
The social media rooms would have more appeal if stars from the shows were in the chats while the shows played live. Currently in the “lounge” are a variety of CBS shows including: soap operas, Survivor, CSI, Beverly Hills 90210 pilot (the original), The Love Boat and Melrose Place. One might think that a show like “The Big Bang Theory” would be perfect for this. I guess people would rather chat about how Kimberly killed the people in the apartment building!
Intel is the initial sponsor for the social media rooms. CBS notes regarding the sponsorship, “the Social Viewing Rooms let technology leaders such as Intel weave its brand into the center of the entertainment experience with a unique combination of user engagement and brand integration.”
Hollywood Reporter believes that reality shows stand to benefit the most from these social media rooms. I’d tend to agree as long as the rooms match up with when the shows are on live. If not live, then it’s the same as chatting on IRC or any web-based chat service.
CBS Interactive has a press release out this morning which shows just how smart the CNET acquisition was. The release shows many of the CNET Web properties and the growth they say is attributed to the new combined CBS Interactive division. The company says that the cross promotional effort is the reason for the surge. It’s good to see that both sides are promoting each other – this is something that most companies don’t handle well.
Here are some of the numbers from the release (the numbers come from comScore):
- CNET.com posted a 22% increase in unique visitors over July 2007, pointing to early success of its beta release, which launched in June and officially launches later this month, as well as the success of early integration programs such as CNET and CBS coverage of the iPhone.
- CHOW’s unique monthly users increased 24% month over month and 256% over the previous year, as more food fans turned to the site for fun, practical advice on cooking and food.
- BNET.com posted a 19% increase in unique visitors over last month, underscoring the success of the recent BNET Industries launch in April, and its overall position as the go-to resource for business managers and one of the most-visited business sites.
Now I’d like to see a smarter, more streamlined CNET property list.
CBS Sports has announced that beginning today you will be able to access all of their Fantasy Sports data for free on their new fantasynews.cbssports.com Web site. The fantasy sports market is huge and continues to grow and this move is likely to help CBS attempt to move into a leadership role. They will also push users to signup for their free and premium games.
The sports covered include: college football, pro football, baseball, hockey, golf and auto racing. CBSSports.com Fantasy News will also allow users to tap into an enormous amount of data-mining information from the CBSSports.com base of users, the most engaged and passionate fantasy players in the industry. From the most added/most dropped players to draft averages to the most traded players, visitors to CBSSports.com Fantasy News will be served hundreds of statistical breakdowns. The site will feature editorial content from the team of writers at CBS Sports.
When will we have a fantasy league for bloggers? Like vote on when you think x person will step over the edge or when y person will be forced out due to z reason. Could be exciting. I’d take Scoble on a over-under to move to a new app off FriendFeed within 6 weeks.
Update: A CenterNetworks reader sent us the following regarding the above story: The Supreme Court handed down it’s denial of cert on a case yesterday which would have potentially killed the (above mentioned) product.
Hot off their CNET acquisition, CBS (CBS) is announcing the launch of a new vertical ad network. CBS will launch "CBS College Sports Media" today. The new ad network will include CBSSports.com, NCAA.com and over 200 official college sports sites. While CBS runs March Madness and the basketball game streaming, they will have to push the other 200 college sports sites to drive traffic higher to keep the network going year-round. The college sports sites are the official athletic sites of approximately 215 colleges which are currently operated by CBS College Sports Network.
The other big announcement is that the CBS sites in this new ad network will remove all ties to any remnant ad networks. These would most likely include: Advertising.com, Burst Media, Tribal Fusion, ValueClick, etc. Basically what they are telling sites in the college sports demographic is, "get in or get out."
CBS stated that this new ad network would have reached 10 million unique visitors and 1.5 billion impressions in March 2008. It’s important to note that March would most likely be their highest month of delivery with the college basketball tourney in the month of March.
Staci at PaidContent has more on the new ad network and believes the remnant network removal will be in the millions of dollars.
CNET shareholders would receive $11.50 a share if the deal closes. This amount represents a 45% premium to Wednesday’s closing price and above any price at which the stock has traded in about two years. Shares of CNET rose 42% to $11.30 in recent premarket activity, while CBS’ stock fell 3% to $24.10.
This deal would bring more technology content to the airwaves. No, I doubt we will see Rafe Needleman calling the next Giants-49ers game, but what we might see is shows like Natali DelConte’s Loaded appear on any of the CBS television networks. I can see strong online-tv convergence with this deal.
Here’s the release:
CBS to Become a Top Ten U.S. Internet Company with Unparalleled Content and Reach, Boasting Approximately 200 Million Monthly Unique Users Worldwide CNET Networks’ CNET, ZDNet, GameSpot.com, TV.com, CNET News, UrbanBaby, BNET, CHOW and Search.com, Among Others, To Be Combined with CBS Corporation’s National and Local Interactive Businesses
NEW YORK and SAN FRANCISCO, May 15 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — CBS Corporation (NYSE: CBS.A and CBS) has entered into an agreement to acquire CNET Networks, Inc., it was announced today by Leslie Moonves, President and Chief Executive Officer, CBS Corporation. Under the terms of the agreement, CBS will make a cash tender offer for all issued and outstanding shares of CNET Networks for $11.50 per share, representing an equity value of approximately $1.8 billion. The acquisition will make CBS one of the 10 most popular Internet companies in the United States, with a combined 54 million unique users per month, and approximately 200 million users worldwide.
"There are very few opportunities to acquire a profitable, growing, well-managed Internet company like CNET Networks," said Moonves. "CBS stands for premium content and unparalleled reach, and CNET Networks will add a tremendous platform to extend our complementary entertainment, news, sports, music and information content to a whole new global audience. Together, CBS and CNET Networks will have significant additional exposure to the fastest- growing advertising sector and can accelerate our growth through a number of new content, promotion and advertising initiatives. We could not be more pleased with the prospect of adding CNET Networks and its tremendous team of people to the CBS family. I look forward to working with Quincy Smith, Neil Ashe and the considerable combined talent at both companies, as we build upon our success."
Based in San Francisco, CNET Networks owns many of the Internet’s leading entertainment, news and information sites including CNET, ZDNet, GameSpot.com, TV.com, mp3.com, CNET news.com, UrbanBaby, CHOW, Search.com, BNET, MySimon and TechRepublic. The company, which reported significant profits in 2007 on revenues of $406 million, has a large international footprint, particularly in China.
Upon closing, CNET Networks’ sites will be combined with CBS’s stable of dynamic and growing interactive businesses. These include CBS.com, CBSSports.com, CBSCollegeSports.com, MaxPreps.com, CBSNews.com, last.fm, Wallstrip, MobLogic, CBS Radio and CBS Television Stations digital media platforms, and the distribution network of the CBS Audience Network, which is made up of more than 300 partner Web sites and reaches 82% of all online users in the United States.
"The core businesses of CNET Networks and CBS Interactive represent near perfect category symmetry in premium online content," said Quincy Smith, President, CBS Interactive. "Together we will have a terrific opportunity to not only grow our established businesses, but to build new attractive verticals of content as well. This is the beginning of an era for both CBS and CNET Networks; plus, it’s going to be great to work with Neil and his team, many of whom I have known for many years."
"We’re thrilled to join CBS and combine our interactive media experience with CBS’s world-class content," said Neil Ashe, Chief Executive Officer, CNET Networks, Inc. "CNET Networks operates some of the most important premium online brands, serving the most sought after online audiences. Today’s announcement brings together two organizations that complement each other and working with Leslie, Quincy and the talented people at CBS, we look forward to taking our business and our brands to the next level."
"We look forward to completing the acquisition of CNET Networks and the terrific benefits it brings to CBS as Quincy, Neil and their combined teams build upon our success," Moonves concluded. "At the same time our strong cash flow allows us to pay among the highest dividends in the industry, and we are committed to continue to pay our attractive dividend to return value to shareholders."
The Board of Directors of CNET Networks has unanimously approved the merger agreement and unanimously recommends that CNET Networks stockholders accept the tender offer and tender their shares.
The transaction is subject to customary conditions and is expected to be completed in the third quarter of this year.
Below are our live notes from the conference call regarding CBS’ plan to acquire CNET.
8:57 – call has concluded – read up from the bottom.
8:55 Doug Mitchelson Deutsche Bank – when you look out 3-5 years, do you think this deal will bring you enough scale? We have just tripled the size of our interactive activity. We look at everything but we have taken a major league step forward to be a leader in the future. To predict what will happen in 5 years from now, it’s hard for me to predict what will happen 5 weeks from now. We are in the top 10 now, maybe we will be in the top 5. At the end of the day, premium content through content distribution is a great step for us.
8:52 Mark Mayne – The revenue growth has been disappointing year over year. What are your strategies for accelerating revenue growth and how do you expect to improve the margins. Fred: We think they have the assets to do that and combined with us we reach a different set of advertisers than we do currently. We will be able to benefit from both companies’ scale.
8:50 Victor Miller Bear Stearns - On a proforma basis what does this new line item look like going forward. And where are CNET vs. CBS growing at the same rate? We will make this a separate segment as we’ve noted and we expect the deal to close in the 3q – there is an outside chance that it will close in 2q.
8:47 David Miller SMH Capital - Asks about EBITDA growth – how will it be created? If you follow CNET, that’s the guidance they provided for 2008. As you may know they had a number of costs that related to backdating of options and other items out of the ordinary. They are very excited about the agreement they have signed. They announced a reduction in force earlier this year as well.
(why do they allow people to ask 2 or 3 questions – geez, let everyone have a chance!)
8:40 Lehman Bros - On strategy regarding content and distribution, does this correlate with the strategy of being open and does this fit with your current video strategy or is it a bolt on? Les – this absolutely fits with our strategy of having our content anywhere and everywhere we can.
8:40 Question time
8:37 Fred – standard talk about the financial terms and how they will acquire the shares. They hope to close the deal by 3Q 2008. Ad revenues from CNET account for 89% of their total revenue. This transaction will have no effect on the CBS dividend.
8:34 – Les – both companies have complementary online businesses. He talks about the different businesses and how they will combine together. This deal puts us in every media sector in a big way. We can easily launch new and big sites. CNET brings a large, talented online sales team and brings video game inventory. We believe the combined company will see big growth for CNET. We love the international opportunities and having a profitable channel in China. The people from CNET are the key to this deal and we will have some of the best talent in the industry. We are excited about the possibilities going forward. Revenues of $450 million and EBITDA of $92 million in 2008 and the combined companies could see $1 billion in revenue by 2010/2011 and we plan to combine both companies together into a new interactive grouping.
8:32 – Les (CBS CEO) – explains the terms of the deal. CBS will become a top 10 media company with over 54 million unduplicated uniques. CNET will be combined with CBS Interactive once the deal closes including the distribution network. From entertainment to news to music to etc, CBS and CNET will have attractive demographics that fit now and the future. We are always looking for strategic acquisitions particularly in interactive content.
8:30 – hold music