CBS Flexes Web Might With CNET Buy

Finally some good news from the tech media world. Count me among those who were surprised (pleasantly) with the news early Thursday morning that CBS had plunked down $1.8 billion (in cash mind you) for CNET Networks. Forrester analyst James McQuivey basically said CBS overpaid substantially for CNET in today’s New York Times’ account of the deal. “Maybe there’s some gold in those hills that I have not seen yet.”

So while Barry Diller and IAC/InterActive Corp. takes the exact reverse approach – he is breaking apart his Web empire by selling off “undervalued” properties like Ask.com , Match.com and Home Shopping Network, CBS continues to go on a Web shopping spree. You’d like to think they are getting bargain basement deals, but the price tags on both CNET and music site Last.fm, which fetched $280 million suggest otherwise.

Propping up CNET and sister properties like BNET (business), GameSpot (gaming) and a couple of seemingly unrelated sites – TV.com (television) and CHOW (cooking) will be a good thing, I believe. In a year or two if technology sites continue to struggle they will need some diversity to balance out the balance sheet. And, if anyone has a chance at emerging stronger in the tech publishing world in the next 18-24 months, it is CNET. They still appeal to tech enthusiasts and gadget lovers everywhere. They have great content and they still have a few good men and women breaking news that often impacts the national business media and I think they will remain a popular destination for enterprise IT news, trends and advice as well.

Now from really pedestrian perspective, can Les Moonves hire a few more writers to show he is serious about making CNET great again? And while he is at it, maybe an editorial assistant or two or a web site overhaul to make PR folks lives a bit easier when trying to navigate the Byzantine corridors of their newsroom.

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