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November 8, 2006

New President of CBS Interactive Division Making the News

Does the hiring of a new president of what is now being called CBS interactive mean an even more aggressive charge into digital media for the major network?

News came out Monday that Quincy Smith has been named to lead a newly named interactive division, coming to the company from investment bank Allen & Co. James Hibberd with TelevisionWeek reports that Allen was a major dealmaker there, including transactions for Google, AOL, and Yahoo, and speculates "the hiring of Mr. Smith could signal more aggressive growth for the new media division."

Smith's job will be to oversee CBS innertube, the online platform for redistribution of CBS shows and original Internet-only programming, as well as the various CBS Web sites. His job will also be to oversee the general trajectory of CBS' digital efforts and to forge partnerships for the network in expanding this area.

CBS, of course, is confident that a dealbreaker for major companies is the way to go. Others are more critical. Take these comments from Mathew Ingram, for instance, who writes, "So CBS wants to find and buy the next YouTube before it gegts big. Gee, I wonder why no one else has thought of that? Way to go. And so they've hired a guy who at age 35 is described as a 'veteran' of the industry, and of the takeover game. Why--because he helped advise Viacom to buy Neopets? Wow."

While Ingram questions whether there is a longterm strategy at CBS Interactive, the recent interview with Ingram at paidContent emphasizes that Smith is trying to get his bearings in this new role and proceed strategically. Staci D. Kramer writes that he is "a man full of ideas and details but wary of sounding too glib or all-knowing."

The interview is worth looking at for the man who will help lead the immediate future of one of the major television forces in entering more aggressively in digital distribution and original online content.

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