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CBS Acquires CNET Networks for $1.8 Billion 100

Posted by timothy
from the aggregation-to-the-nth-degree dept.
An anonymous reader writes "According to an announcement made today by Neil Ashe, CEO of CNET Networks, CBS has acquired CNET Networks. "Today, CNET Networks announced that it has been acquired by US media company CBS, in a deal valued at $1.8bn. The agreement represents an important strategic step for both companies and should be completed by the third quarter of 2008." So guess we'll be seeing The Late Show with Dan Ackerman, Molly Wood in Hollywood and CSISpot." If you'd like to read about it someplace other than CNet, Ian Lamont contributes a link to coverage at The Standard. It seems reasonable to ask how much longer they'll let news.com remain an IT-centric site.
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CBS Acquires CNET Networks for $1.8 Billion

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  • New name? (Score:5, Funny)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:26AM (#23417756)
    And the new company is....CnetBS?
    • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:51AM (#23418068)

      CnetBS?
      I think they decided to cut out the unnecessary letterage and just call it BS.
    • And the new company is....CnetBS?

      I don't know their name, but they've already registered cbs.com.com [upn.com]...

    • Re:New name? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by abolitiontheory (1138999) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @10:51AM (#23418790)

      And the new company is....CnetBS?

      Haha... *tear*. Am I the only one who is actually sad about this? I lose faith in new media outlets when they partner with old media. I know Cnet is big and corporate anyway, but it's like your favorite local supermarket chain being bought out by the big, national one; you know worse service and product quality is on the way, all in the name of (supposedly) lower prices.

      For me, Cnet was the Amazon of review websites. Sure it was big, it was corporate, but it provided solid baseline advice on pricing and advice, along with user reviews and links to other websites or places to buy the product. Compare that baseline with a little in depth search on fan sites and blogs, and you were sure to find the easily accessible deal on the net. Cnet could be trusted, in the same way Amazon could/can be trusted.

      This is another MSNBC monstrosity. No one trusted them from the first, but Cnet is losing respect in my eyes and my chances of going there will dimish as the months of incorperation with CBS increase. This rings like I imagine a major network partnering with Amazon would. I would lose respect for the beauty of a purely "new world" portal of information and services, feeling like it was sold out to old world profit motives and corporate greed.

      Old networks are trying to "stay relevent" but they are only dead anchors on sailing ships of new technology. When has this kind of partnership helped? An example of a good acqusition was Google/YouTube, being that they were both new world technologies with distinct advantages for each other. Old media is just trying to keep their hands in the money pot, and as they become more irrelevent, they start to make grand, flailing gestures like this, much like the record companies and RIAA.

      This smacks of the same way Microsoft "innovates": buying companies which have technologies they can quickly repackage and sell off as their own. CBS brings nothing to this merger. They are acquiring a relevent, new world technology and are going to suck it dry, purely in their best interest. Unless they stay fairly hand-off and simply siphon ad revenue, Cnet will go down the drain and become another "made over" new world technology no one (informed) cares about.

      Anyone have suggestions for other broad-base review websites I can start visiting?

      Technorant, out.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by stewbacca (1033764)

        For me, Cnet was the Amazon of review websites.
        Cnet is always good for a study in how to NOT conduct unbiased reviews, complete with high Dell ratings AND Dell advertisements right on the same page!

        Their car reviews are especially bad, not from a biased sense, rather from an it's-obvious-the-nerd-who-wrote-this-review-knows-nothing-about-cars-and-it-is-obvious sense.

        • by MojoStan (776183)

          Cnet is always good for a study in how to NOT conduct unbiased reviews, complete with high Dell ratings AND Dell advertisements right on the same page!
          Their car reviews are especially bad

          Another example of CNET's bias and general crumminess: Slashdot | Game Journalist May Have Been Fired Over Negative Review [slashdot.org]

          Gamespot was ruined when CNET bought them. A Gamespot reviewer dared to give Kane & Lynch a less-than-glowing review (6.0), even though the game's publisher had an ad campaign spread across the entire site. The reviewer was fired.

          CNET's official comment on the rumors surrounding this suspicious firing: "For over a decade, Gamespot and the many members of its editorial team have

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        For me, Cnet was the Amazon of review websites.

        Amazon? Have you read the reviews on tech products on Amazon? They're horrible.

        As a former CNET employee, I can tell you that the editors and reviewers are not as tech savvy as you think. The reviews are mostly paid advertisements anyways.

        And slightly off topic..

        When referring to CNET, it's written in all caps. Not Cnet, or cnet or C|Net. It's pretty funny, we had posters in the breakroom that instructed us on proper usage of the branding and how to type out CNET.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        > "Am I the only one who is actually sad about this?"

        Yes.

        Pining for the glory days of CNet is like looking back fondly on some of the rockier patches of the Bush administration. Most of CNet and the Ziff-Davis multimedia monstrosity has been like Dvorak on crack for going on a decade now.

        I don't care who buys them, as long as it stops the "Should Linux users be shot on sight or is hanging more fair?" headlines. Pity, they probably won't stop.
        • Actualy, you're right; the diagnosis of pining for the glory days is correct. You guys have destroyed what was left of my connection to CNET. Time to get rid of the past and move on to new things.

          So, where do you turn for reviews these days, /.?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by himself (66589)
        abolitiontheory wrote, "For me, Cnet was the Amazon of review websites."

        Well, for me, CNet was the Matlock of review websites: all the action was pretty slow-moving, there were ads everywhere, and they never tried to scare you with something you hadn't seen before a hundred times. Coincidentally, CBS is the Matlock of television networks, so I think this is going to work out juuuuust fine.
      • Cnet is big and corporate anyway [...] it was corporate [...] profit motives and corporate greed.

        Use the proper term, darn it:

      • by sootman (158191)
        There's MSNBC, now CnetBS, what's next... ABC/Slashdot? Fox/Fark? CW/Goatse?

        Ops, just remembered, Fox owns MySpace. Damn, truth is stranger than fiction. And of course, Fox is News Corp, and News.com is CNet is now CBS... man, this is confusing.

        And yes, I do remember the old days... CNet reviews were great at the time, and they kept them online for a long time, so when a few years went by, I could easily look up the specs on, say, a used 200 MHz Compaq Presario that I was eyeing. The only thing I disliked a
        • The day that we get ABC/Slashdot I will have to leave. I know I don't have a small number log in; (I registered back in 98, but lost that long ago... darn if I had only kept it) but ABC is the worst network out there.
          • by jZnat (793348) *
            What a coincidence! ABC is a Disney network. You know, the same company that hasn't been the same ever since its founder died. The same company that continues to push for eternal copyright so that the first Mickey Mouse cartoon (Steamboat Willy) never falls into the public domain.
  • Just wait until China decides to purchase CBS.
  • by xmas2003 (739875) * on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:28AM (#23417778) Homepage
    I wonder if there was internal discussions in the buyout about how much the domain news.com was worth as I can certainly see that being attractive to CBS.
  • by ohxten (1248800)
    Wow, and I thought CNET was huge already. Almost like the government purchasing Microsoft.

    Wait... maybe not quite.
  • What about news.news.com and news.news.news.com?
  • by analog_line (465182) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:36AM (#23417896)
    "news.com" domain name sold for 1.8 billion, because that's what it really boils down to. Sure, they get a portfolio of websites that get a lot of eyes and I would imagine a fair amount of dollars, but everyone knows how fickle that can be in today's world. CBS's news divsion is at the bottom of the pack of major US news networks despite the Katie Couric hire, which was supposed to get them back on track. This sounds like a similar ploy, the bulk of C-Net being sweetener to the "screw the news division, it's not a profit center" investors.
  • Amazing. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Steauengeglase (512315) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:37AM (#23417900)
    I didn't realize that CNET had $1.8 Billion in office furniture. That is what they are buying it for, right?
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:37AM (#23417906)
    Maybe CBS is trying to get hip with the youngsters. This is a network that has been know for the last 20 years as the ancient relic network. They've actually had several "60 Minutes" hosts die in the middle of news segments recently without anyone even noticing. Poor Andy Rooney has been dead for several years, and they still cut to his rotting corpse at the end of each show.

    They really NEED some modernization over there. Granted they will have to explain the concept of the "internet" to many of their staffers, but hey if they can learn to use a telegraph, they can learn the internet too. And maybe someone on a CNET forum can tell them about Andy.

    • by slams (20268)
      This has been a fading perception for some time now, at least since Les Moonves has been CEO, with CSI*, Survivor and related. However, they are still screwing up given they dropped Jericho...
  • ...we'll soon C even more BS about the NET?
  • I would have thought that either CNN or ABC would beat them to the bid. certainly, both have the money to acquire it. I guess then there must be something greater behind all this
    • by AndrewNeo (979708)
      Actually, I'm suprised that FOX didn't go after it first. News.com would go well in News Corp.'s portfolio.
  • Canadian Security Intelligence Service ... + pot? c'mon, I expect that in the netherlands, but in canada? We're still working on legalizing it!
  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:39AM (#23417940)
    Yay, I guess... or maybe boo? Meh? Whatever.
  • by illectro (697914) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:40AM (#23417950)
    CNet has been struggling recently and that valuation seems too high, but traditional media have a bad habit of paying too much for aqcuisitions of tech companies.... Comcast Acquires Plaxo, even though nobody can figure out how to make money [techcrunch.com] AOL Acquires Bebo (popular, but not enough to justify almost a billion dollars [valleywag.com]) CBS (again!) Acquires last.fm (popular among bloggers but eclipsed by other sites [wired.com] in the real world) the only big media deal I can think of in recent years that was a good bet was Newscorp's undervalued' acquisition of myspace.
    • by mmkkbb (816035) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:56AM (#23418112) Homepage Journal
      Hein? Last.fm is not primarily a music streaming site though.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Rude Turnip (49495)
      I'm almost thinking the business plan of many of these internet-based companies is to simply de-fund Old Media with these acquisitions at outrageous values and use the money to start profitable ventures to bury the codgers once and for all.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Hard_Rock_2 (804967)
      Personally while the last.fm purchase was probably a bit overvalued (they all are), last.fm was actually a decent purpose considering that the site is actually really well done and it works. I think they deserved to get bought out and kudos to them. I had a look at the other music streaming sites in the article you mentioned and non of them seemed nearly as good.
  • Sigh or Yeah? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by failedlogic (627314) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:45AM (#23417986)
    In the early 90's when there wasn't much else on the Internet for download sites, I used to go to Download.com to find shareware for Windows, CNet for product reviews and news. And yeas, there are a bunch of other umbrella sites under CNET. Frankly the only one I ever found of any use is GameFAQs. Over the years, the quality of those sites has decreased. There are many other sites I will chose over the CNet sites. So, I wonder if this is really a wise move for CBS. They've had a great history in journalism and now they've bought a site with not much in-depth or useful information. So this will either mean that the brand will either get worse (if CBS just wanted News.com and doesn't care for CNET or mismanages) or better (CBS will have an impact on the journalistic side and bring more quality material).

    Its interesting to see this from another angle. Dan Rather gave a speech (if I recall at Duke ... iTunes U), and he discusses CBS's history and how the company (among others in news reporting) didn't get into the Internet right away. Perhaps this is seen as buying into the Internet experience and (obviously) adding technology reporting to its side. I don't watch MSNBC but I'd have to think that its more or less the same there.
    • I think they're trying to buy into the Internet. Only problem is they're buying into the Internet circa 1999 and they don't know it.
  • I think the last time I happened to hit a CNet page was back in 2002 or 3, which is about the last time I watched CBS-TV.

    Both those huge "studios" are better off producing content that's syndicated and embedded into smaller, more precisely targeted outlets. Like topical websites with video, video blogs, and viral email links. There is no "synergy" for me in their bundling their content into a branded outlet. Especially when that brand logo is seared into the lower left corner of my screen.
  • Seriously (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @09:48AM (#23418030)
    Seriously, I remember playing Shadowrun and Cyberpunk as a kid (ok, not a kid, but a long time ago...) and thinking the idea of megacorps running the world was nice for a fictional view of the future.

    Apparently it wasn't so fictional with all these multi-billion dollar mergers of mega-media corporations, manipulation of political agendas by corporate interests, and whatnot.

    Where do I sign up for my cybernetic implants because I know how this story goes and I want to have a fighting edge when things go bleak...
    • by Amouth (879122)
      humm skillwires sounds fun.. just got to be careful where you get your skill softs from
  • another big buck media company that is in alignment with MAFIAA and other bastardly organization's ideals, takes over an important internet presence. expect sh@t spreading around from cnet soon.
    • by tepples (727027)

      another big buck media company that is in alignment with MAFIAA and other bastardly organization's ideals
      Aligned, but not (yet) a member. CBS ditched Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks SKG, and MTV Networks at the end of 2005.
  • pretty hard to believe 1 piece of vaporware is that much more valuable then a whole vapor-network!
  • TV.com (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Roblimo (357) Works for SourceForge on Thursday May 15, 2008 @10:11AM (#23418300) Homepage Journal
    CNet also owns TV.com -- surely that domain name, too, is of value to CBS.
  • by Brett Buck (811747) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @10:33AM (#23418582)
    The next time they create "fake but accurate" documents, they will be far more plausible!

              Brett
  • Well, maybe this will free up Tom and Molly to join Leo at TWIT or Veronica @ Revision 3
  • by mckinnsb (984522) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @11:16AM (#23419198)
    CBS is buying much more than just a few (highly valuable) domains and websites with the acquisition of CNET - they are buying a highly trained technical team that has experience serving huge amounts of data to many users at once across multiple domains targeting many different interests. Which is of course, essentially what CBS wants to do, except they took a long time getting into the internet. To be completely honest they would have been better off making this purchase a few years ago.

    This isn't to say that CBS doesn't already have a talented technical team, but I would place my bet on CBS planning to expand further into the internet realm. They probably realize that the future of their medium is tied heavily to the internet, and are making strides to ensure that they will be able to deliver their content over the internet seamlessly in the future. Even accounting for team attrition after acquisition, acquiring an entire company at once is probably much easier than a long term hiring process, especially for a company as large as CBS which has already hesitated too long.

    CNET also has a blog that , while not extremely well known, is frequently perused by JavaScript and web developers- Clientside. I haven't visited Download.com in a long time, but I visit Clientside nearly every day for examples , reference, etc. I'm a little worried about its fate(considering that the author could leave always leave CNET after the acquisition), but I hope it survives. It's also a good example of the talent behind CNET- there are some good programmers there, for sure.

  • Yup, those were the days man; download.com was my friend, just like Tom's Hardware. Then along comes some big corporation and soon, the site is but a shadow of its former self.

    In fact, it seems to be happening more and more these days. I think I'll give the phenomena a name and call it deja-rue!

  • I just don't feel the trust w/ See-BS at the helm. Guess I'll have to retrain the clients to go to Sourceforge or MajorGeeks...but they don't roll off the tongue like download.com does.
    Going to have to start hammering tom's hardware guide(Tom who?)into their heads, too.
  • synergy.. (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by owlnation (858981)
    ... so this is to complement Big Bang Theory?

    I think perhaps they deserve each other.
  • by jettoblack (683831) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @11:36AM (#23419504)
    Assuming CBS wants news.com for their own news portal site, the current CNet computer & tech news portal will be moved to a new, easy-to-remember address: com.news.com.com

    • by iroll (717924)
      I came here to read or make a news.news.com.com.com joke, and I was not disappointed.

      CNet smoked some serious crack when they came up with that.
  • ZDnet I guess spun them off too or is the new name going to be ZDCnetBS which will becoming to our websites shortly due to lack of foresight from any of the companies board of directors.

    Three things you can count on happening are.
    1 Low wages for the peons.
    2 disgruntle workers leaving due to a new non compete agreement.
    3 overly ad laden site promoting CBS views and crap shows.

    just remember if this happens we the consumers will do what the cybermen from doctor who would do. we would upgrade our bookmarks of t
  • The merits of the deal aside, this also is another trend of the center of the entertainment business slowly moving north into San Francisco and Silicon Valley. We have apple now a major distributor of tv shows and music, disney's Pixar, and that other animation studio in Redwood City. Not to mention all the very small indie production that goes on there as well.
  • *ala David Letterman*
    10. Just about everyone on 60 Minutes fears the Internet will send robots to eat their medication.
    9. Microsoft will show up with a greater bid to buy Les Moonves.
    8. Zug.com's John Hargrave will replace David Letterman in 2012.
    7. Everytime a computer is given out as a prize on The Price Is Right, John Dvorak will show up and tell you what a piece-of-crap it is.
    6. Old and busted: CBS Sunday Morning; New hotness: The long overdue Meet the Sess [youtube.com]!
    5. To compete with X-Play, Pauley Perr
  • This isn't 1998 anymore. CBS wasted a lot of money.

    • by longacre (1090157) *
      If they can trim down CNet's ops and effectively tie it in with their MTV and sports properties, I think they might do okay. The news.com domain is probably the most valuable piece of the deal, easily worth a few hundred million.

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