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CBS goes digital alone, sort of

Other networks building a destination site

CBS Interactive chief Quincy Smith misses few opportunities to draw a distinction between the Eye’s digital strategy and that of NBC, Fox and ABC.

Under Smith, the fast-talking former Allen & Co. exec, the Eye has launched its Interactive Audience Network of hundreds of affiliates that will distribute CBS programming online.

NBC and Fox are doing the same as part of a joint venture called NewCo, but they’re also building a destination site, which Smith clearly sees as very 1999. CBS was initially included in the talks, but withdrew due to Fox and NBC’s desire to own at least part of the means of distribution.

“We were honored to be considered in the conversation, but the simple fact of the matter is a big piece of that is building a destination site for which we don’t think there’s a use,” says Smith.

CBS plans to have 70,000 hours of programming online around the Web in the fall on 400 sites including MSN, Joost, AOL and perhaps even NewCo, despite Smith’s misgivings about the model.

Conversations, he says, are ongoing. “They’re putting a lot of marketing resources behind it, so why not?”

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