CBS is relaunching its online TV site—TV.com—as the most comprehensive online destination for streaming TV content, information about shows, and fan communities.
A month after redesigning its webpage, on Monday TV.com announced new content parterships with Sony Pictures Television , MGM Studios, PBS, Showtime, and major TV production house Endemol.
CBS acquired TV.com as part of CNET, which it acquired last year for some $1.8 billion; this is part of CBS plan to squeeze revenue out of that purchase by leveraging TV.com's existing audience and most importantly, it's phenomenal name.
These new partnerships add more than 1,000 show episodes to TV.com's video library of 38,000 videos from 19,000 shows. Until now, most of TV.com's content is from CBS and from Hulu.com, the web company that's co-owned by NBC Universal and News Corp that syndicates its content from NBC and Fox throughout the web, including to TV.com, Yahoo, AOL, MSN , etc.
The site attracts more than 15 million contributions to the social aspects of the site—things like forum posts and poll votes.
CBS CEO Leslie Moonves tells me that he wants TV.com to be the go-to destination for anything TV related. He also says that the site's revenue sharing model is a win-win for all media companies involved. Hulu can control all the ads posted with its NBC and Fox episodes. If it's an episode of Fox's "24", Hulu and News Corp share the ad revenue with CBS. If it's an ad with an episode of CBS' "How I Met Your Mother" or any of the informational or social elements on the site, then CBS gets the revenue. And Moonves is optimistic that he can attract his rival networks to come together on this site, with the theory that eventually everybody's content will be available everywhere and it's just a good thing that studios can get a new revenue stream rather than have that TV content be pirated online.
But it's never easy to get media rivals to cooperate.
CBS and TV.com tell me they're in talks with the other major players (which are obviously ABCand Viacom's properties) and they didn't get them on-board for this announcement. And NBC and Fox's Hulu agreed to distribute to TV.com long before it was owned by CBS. Now that CBS has NBC and Fox plus all this other content, and NBC and Fox's Hulu doesn't have CBS, can this imbalance last? Are the two companies different enough—Hulu syndicating across the web, TV.com being a destination site—for this to work?
No matter what, I think it'll be very hard for all the media giants to put their content on a single site, especially if the site is owned by one of them. It may not be the best thing for the industry, but these media giants do have longstanding rivalries.
We'll see if the drive to generate online revenue can overcome that.
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