CBS plays the quiet one and slips under the radar


The CBS "Eye on the Internet" hasn't blinked, according to Leslie Moonves, president and chief executive officer. In an address at the Jupiter Media Metrix conference in early March, Moonves claimed bragging rights for success with what some had claimed was a non-existent strategy.

"Suddenly, we have some of the hottest sites in all cyberspace," he said. "That's a change for us.Everywhere I went, at every industry gathering or cocktail party, I had to explain why we didn't have an Internet strategy." But these misperceptions, not the strategy, were off the mark. "I would tell them, very reasonably.we do have a strategy. We're trading advertising and promotion for equity positions in companies that make sense to us. And we're building destinations we can drive people to with our programming."

Has that changed with the February 15 announcement that the independent and Web sites are being absorbed back into television operations? "That was, and remains, the strategy, although we are now starting to focus more and more on our in-house, wholly owned sites," Moonves said.

"Some of the other networks were forced into making these changes more for financial reasons," notes David Katz, CBS vice president, strategic planning and interactive ventures. "We made these changes a while ago for strategic reasons." The details of the consolidation bear this out: There have not been any significant layoffs from the reorganization. Instead, Katz says, the investment was in making sites like that for Survivor: The Australian Outback. "For the past couple of years, it was all about hype and press releases," he says. "You didn't see us participating in a lot of this because we were focused on results. Hopefully now, the rest of the Internet space has caught up to where we've been going: demonstrating value to constituents."