CBS Viacom to buy CNet

by Mark Sweney, THe Guardian

CBS is to acquire digital media content company CNET Networks, which owns websites including and ZDNet, in a cash deal worth $1.8bn (£927m).

The US broadcaster, which bought UK digital music recommendations service last May for $280m, said the CNET acquisition would transform it into one of the 10 most popular internet companies in America with 54 million monthly unique users.

Globally, CNET will boost CBS web traffic to 200 million monthly unique users.

San Francisco-based CNET, founded in 1992, owns a range of online entertainment, news and information websites including CNET, ZDNet,,, and

"There are few opportunities to acquire a profitable, growing, well-managed internet company like CNET Networks," said Leslie Moonves, the chief executive of CBS.

"CNET Networks will add a tremendous platform to extend our complementary entertainment, news, sports, music and information content to a whole new global audience."

Moonves added that the two companies would have "significant additional exposure" to the "fastest-growing advertising sector".

He said that a number of new "content, promotion and advertising initiatives" would accelerate growth.

CBS added that CNET had a "large international footprint, particularly in China" and made "significant" profits in 2007 on revenues of $406m.

Quincy Smith, the president of CBS Interactive, said: "The core businesses of CNET Networks and CBS Interactive represent near perfect category symmetry in premium online content."

The acquisition is expected to be completed in the third quarter of this year.

CNET Networks opened its UK office in 2003 and launched a UK version of consumer technology website in 2005. now attracts about 2.5m monthly unique users and claims to be the largest of its kind in the UK.

Initially, CNET ran five UK websites including business and IT news operation, and the influential technology news, blog and review site

The company launched a UK version of popular gaming website in 2006, now attracts about 3.5m unique users each month.

CNET Networks UK also runs green news website

The company also launched CNET TV, which offers internet video in areas including music, film, television, games and technology reviews, in the UK at the end of last year.

In total, the company claims a combined monthly unique user base of 10 million in the UK.

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