CBS is serious about its online content. That may not have been clear with last weeks confirmed purchase of news videolog Wallstrip, but with today’s announcement that they were buying UK based Internet radio company Last.fm it certainly is.
Now, in addition to a sizable investment in IPTV company Joost, and an active content distribution strategy of its own, CBS will add a community driven music network that has more than 15million users spread around more than 200 countries.
In announcing the deal, CBS CEO Les Moonves said “[Last’s] demographics play perfectly to CBS’s goal to attract younger viewers and listeners across our businesses.” With Joost, Wallstrip and now Last.fm, CBS is clearly trying to build that audience quickly.
To acquire Last.fm, CBS will pay $280m in cash. The founders of Last, which was started in 2002, will continue to run Last.fm independently but they will almost certainly be exploring joint efforts with the CBS Radio Division.
In its overall content strategy, it almost seems that CBS is positioning itself to compete more with Viacom’s MTV Networks (networks as opposed to the single MTV brand recently written about here). I’m not sure if that’s the case, but it wouldn’t be a surprise. Given CBS and Viacom only split into separate companies a few years ago, Mr. Moonves and those at CBS are likely well informed about market growth and opportunity. News Corp, and its integration of online properties through MySpace is also, likely in CBS’ crosshairs.
With big media clearly willing to open its check book to get talent that understands new media (which is unquestionably part of CBS’s acquisition strategy), or to gain new media audiences faster than they could grow them organically, there’s likely going to be more buying to come…and going with it will be more speculation about who will get bought next. Last.fm’s acquisition is assuredly going to spark suggestions that online music venue Pandora could/or should be the target of lustful corporate buyers too.
Pandora doesn’t have last.fm’s audience but on a pure wow-factor, Pandora’s engine to automatically match music to your preferred music choices is pretty impressive. It’s kind of like the promise of early Tivo which hyped its abilities to “learn” what you wanted to watch…only thing, Pandora seems pretty accurate and early Tivo wasn’t. With music on Pandora, the joke about “my Tivo thinks I’m gay [or whatever other misnomer you choose]” isn’t likely to apply. If you like Blues, you’re not likely to get an opera aria with the word Blue in the title.