Quincy Smith to oversee expanded unit
The Eye has absorbed CNET into CBS Interactive and reorganized the unit along five areas of focus, all overseen by CBS Interactive chief Quincy Smith.Smith, who had been prexy of the unit, has been elevated to chief exec of CBS Interactive, with CNET’s Neil Ashe moving into the prexy slot. The expanded unit is organized into technology, entertainment, sports, news and business segments, and the goal is to leverage each throughout the parent conglom. For starters, Smith said, CBS Interactive will integrate programming from skeins such as “60 Minutes” and “48 Hours” with CNET tech coverage. “We’re going to make sure we present all that news in an integrated way,” Smith said. He said CNET’s network of sites — which run the gamut from tech news to foodie and parenting resources — will add “tonnage and heft” to CBS’ existing online offerings. CNET had been generating more than $400 million in revenue before the merger, and Ashe expects the brand to benefit from inclusion in a conglom with wide-ranging radio, TV and outdoor advertising assets. CBS Interactive will be based at CNET’s former San Francisco headquarters. “We look at this as incredibly additive,” Ashe said. “If you walk the halls here, you will hear people proudly say, ‘We are part of CBS Corp.’ ” Wall Street, however, remains cool to the deal. CBS shares were down 27¢ at close of trading Monday to $19.49, near the stock’s 52-week low. CBS announced May 15 it would acquire CNET for $1.8 billion. CBS’ $11.50 a share offer, which initially seemed a little rich, brings several online brands to a conglom in search of heat among younger demos. Besides the signature CNET site, the network includes TV.com, GameSpot.com, MP3.com, Chow.com and UrbanBaby.com. CBS Interactive includes various news and sports sites, plus Last.fm, a British music and social networking site the Eye bought last year. The two entities were tied before the merger: CNET was a charter distribution partner in the CBS Audience Network, the Web syndie venture designed to get full-length episodes of CBS shows widely dispersed for free streaming, with advertising embedded.