CBS' Entertainment Tonight Expands Content Deal With MSN; Seven Figure Guarantees

This story was written by David Kaplan.
CBS' (NYSE: CBS) long-running magazine show Entertainment Tonight will be expanding its presence on Microsoft's (NSDQ: MSFT) MSN portal next month. While ET has been providing some content to the Microsoft property already, the new arrangement has the show providing articles, videos and photos across the entire site, including MSN Television, MSN Music and MSN Movies. B&C reports that MSN will handle ad sales related to the ET features. Under the deal's terms, CBS is promised a cash guarantee, plus a split of the ad revenue. The two sides say the partnership will produce more than $1 million in the first year.

CBS also hopes that the syndication deal will quickly boost ET's digital momentum, which is mostly limited to its own site, ETonline, which recorded 1.7 million unique visitors a month, a 55 gain over last year. averaged 107.3 million uniques and 18 billion U.S. pageviews in June, according to comScore (NSDQ: SCOR) Media Metrix.

Meanwhile, the deal is part of MSN's attempts to shore up its content offerings. The ET deal comes a few weeks after production studio BermanBraun said it would be creating an original destination site for the portal, which will aggregate celebrity, entertainment and pop culture news. This is ET's second major content and ad-sharing relationship with a portal. In August 2003, it struck a deal with Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), but pulled operations back when CBS began ramping up its in-house digital capabilities.

By David Kaplan