TV Crush

CNN.com Goes Local/Potential NBC Universal Spin-off?

5/22/2007 5:52 AM

According to today’s Wall Street Journal: CNN is expected to announce a deal with privately held Internet Broadcasting to deliver more local news to its Website. Internet Broadcasting publishes the Web sites of more than 70 local television stations. CNN will also “take a minority equity stake” in the Minneapolis-based company.

The differentiator, according to the WSJ: unlike MSNBC and Yahoo, which syndicate stories, the CNN deal is a content swap which will presumably help increase traffic for both CNN and the local sites. The WSJ says it’s all about tapping into the lucrative local online ad market which has doubled  to $5.7 billion in the last two years.

CNN will also unveil a redesigned Web site this summer. The network plans to move from a subscription model to an advertising model and offer all video content gratis.  Vids generated by local sites might be included.

The top ten Internet news destinations as of April 2007 per Nielsen/NetRatings, from one to ten, are: MSNBC, Yahoo News, CNN, AOL News, Tribune Newspapers, Internet Broadcasting, NY Times, Gannett, ABC News, Google News.

Surprisingly, Fox News is conspicuously absent from the top ten list.  I say “surprisingly” because their Web site was early out of the box in offering free video content and the system was/is very user friendly. For years, MSNBC vids were off-limits to anyone with a Mac operating system and even now the system is still in beta mode. CNN vids failed to launch at first and when questioned about the problems at Television Critics Association, CNN executives shifted the blame to what they said were technical issues on my end.  They couldn’t explain, however, why my system worked seamlessly with the Fox News site.

Another curious tidbit in the WSJ’s breakingviews.com column today: an analysis of GE’s market value which, in spite of a 70% increase in profit since 2001 to an expected $23 billion this year,  has “done bupkis.” GE is now trading at 16 times earnings, down from 29 in 2001. The recent sale of GE’s plastic business - valued at as little as $8 billion but sold for $11.6 billion — “suggests that. GE assets may have more value than investors and analysts are giving the company credit for in their models … Companies that trade at a discount to their parts are prime targets for activist investors.”

The breakingviews.com recommendation:  CEO Jeffrey Immelt should contemplate “spinning off GE Money and NBC Universal before uppity investors dictate a more Draconian corporate strategy for him.”

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