CBS Interactive Sees Opportunity In The Downturn; Launching (Yes, It Sounds Familiar)

This story was written by Staci D. Kramer.
Those with long-enough memories (that's years, not decades, in net time) may do a doubletake when they see the latest cross-platform venture from CBS Interactive (NYSE: CBS) and the first major product launch since the acquisition of CNET last year:, "the" personal finance property for CBS..That's a piece that has been missing since early 2005, when MarketWatch, the public company that operated joint venture CBS, was sold to Dow Jones (NYSE: NWS). The preview site goes live tonight; the actual launch is slated for March. Just a slim guess that the timing to launch when CBS March Madness is underway isn't coincidental. 

Greg Mason, SVP and GM of CBS Interactive's Business Network, said CBS created at the time of the sale as a placeholder but that nothing was done with the domain. MarketWatch, like (NSDQ: TSCM) and other financial sites of an age, were "born of the bubble in the heyday of Nasdaq." MoneyWatch comes from a very different placean anxiety-causing recession that has people focusing more on personal finance. Brushing the similar-sounding name and punctuation aside, Mason said CBS is "creating something pretty unique and distinct from a content perspective."

MoneyWatch is being launched as a sister site to BNET, the business news site founded by CNET, but, as Mason explained, will be branded across all CBS properties and will be promoted across them allTV, national and local; radioowned as well as syndicated, terrestrial and streaming; online; and mobile. For instance, the stock widget on the front page of CBS radio sites will be rebranded to Correspondents will be referred to as correspondents. BNET, which Mason says has about 13 million unique users now, will feature a MoneyWatch promotion on every page.

Editorially, the new venture is led by Eric Schurenberg, the former managing editor of Money magazine, as editorial director with the BNET staff providing most of the editorial support. They're adding some staff, including broadcast talent; Mason said video will play an important part. Advertising will be sold as part of the BNET rate card but with separate sponsorships. Launch sponsors will get exclusives or semi-exclusives for the first six months or so; for now, it's a club so exclusive that no one has joined. CBS is targeting the financial service community for sales; Mason acknowledges that's a tough sell in this climate but pitches the new site as an opportunity for the challenged community. It sounds daunting, though, given today's environment and the rapid consolidation of financial service providers.

Disclosure: Our parent, ContentNext Media, syndicates to BNET.

By Staci D. Kramer