April 19, 2007
CBS Forms New Division to Create Advertising Connections Among Its Platforms

Sometimes, creating an environment that helps foster a better form of storytelling and distribution is just all about the infrastructure. It's always hard to know when a corporation releases a press release about restructuring or creating a new division whether it will actually mean anything when it comes to creating new content or new business models, but it always seems reassuring nonetheless.

CBS has done a significant amount of restructuring in the past year to better position the network to operate within a "convergence culture." Take the latest announcement, for instance, from earlier this week. The network is creating CBS Connections, which will deal with sales and marketing across media platforms.

According to TelevisionWeek's Jon Lafayette, "The new unit will offer advertising opportunities combining CBS Entertainment, CBS News, CBS Interactive, CBS Sports, CBS Paramount Television, CBS Television Distribution, CSTV, Showtime, CBS Radio and CBS Outdoor."

Late last year, CBS created a new division called CBS Interactive, bringing in Quincy Smith to head the operation. Again, the idea was to create a change in infrastructure that more meaningfully acknowledged and allowed for increased digital efforts, among other intiatives. I wrote, "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."

Then, I asked, "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?" I ask the same question now, of another new division. I don't mean to be cynical at all by asking this, since I consider the changes in infrastructure to be vital in creating an operation that can greater engender the types of storytelling that is becoming increasingly possible.

After the formation of CBS Interactive, CBS followed up with a new division within CBS Interactive called CBS Mobile, looking particularly at developing wireless entertainment, as I wrote about in February.

Most recently, I wrote about NBC's formation of a site particularly to build social networks around its programming. While I may question the idea of a centralized site to foster community-building around all properties NBC, the process of consolidating that process also means a more substantial effort on the network's part, at least in theory.

The formation of CBS Connections likewise indicates that there will be more earnest efforts made to create business models that would foster greater cross-platform distribution and transmedia storytelling, but I guess only time will tell if the infrastructure will help create an environment for even more substantial results.