Eye ups ‘Net stake

CBS pumps $30 million into CTC Bulldog

Giving it a property similar to NBC’s Snap.com and ABC’s Go.com, CBS said Tuesday it has shelled out $30 million for a majority stake in upstart CTC Bulldog Inc., a move that buys it an Internet portal to direct ‘Netizens to its Web properties.

But as opposed to other network-owned sites, CBS’ portal is centered around a gimmick: money.

Called iWon.com, the portal tries to lure online users with daily cash prizes. The site, launched Tuesday, plans to give away $10,000 a day, $1 million every month and $10 million on tax day.

The pact marks the first time CBS has used cash to close an Internet deal. It usually uses its marketing muscle as currency. It also represents its first majority stake in a Web site and further strengthens its online presence, sweetening its offerings in the $37 billion merger with Viacom.

CBS’ varied Web offerings, including CBS News and other business and investing news, as well as sports and entertainment sites, will be housed on the iWon.com site along with e-mail and e-commerce offerings.

Advertising time

Besides the majority stake, CBS also will contribute $70 million in advertising time for iWon.com on its TV network.

CBS chief executive Mel Karmazin will be a director of iWon, and Neil Austrian, prexy of the National Football League, will be chairman.

The Eye hopes to make iWon a separately traded company in the first half of 2000, sources close to the deal said.

CBS also gets off cheap in its Web portal acquisition. Privately owned Irvington, N.Y.-based CTC Bulldog was formed earlier this year and has had little time to create enough clout on the Internet to demand a Amazon.com- or Yahoo!-size pricetag.

Online holdings

CBS already holds minority stakes in 11 sites, including SportsLine USA, financial news provider MarketWatch.com, Jobs.com, automotive parts seller Wrenchhead.com and online pharmacy Rx.com.

On Monday, CBS and Medscape Inc. launched a cobranded health Web site. CBS bought a 35% stake in the company in July for $150 million in promotions through CBS’ TV, radio and billboard properties over the next seven years.

None of its previous e-ventures, however, served as a portal to direct Internet users to all of CBS’ properties.

“iWon is a unique product unlike any on the Web,” Karmazin said. “We believe it has the opportunity to build a powerful and successful destination portal for all types of Web users that is both useful and fun.”

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