CBS Corp. last week bought a 22 percent stake in
Wrenchead.com, a privately held Web site for auto-parts enthusiasts, marking the company's
latest foray into electronic commerce on the Internet and further enhancing its position
as a leading provider of automotive-oriented content.
In exchange, Wrenchead.com
-- which offers members a convenient and timely way to search and order auto parts -- will
be the recipient of $33 million of advertising and promotion over a four-year period
across all of CBS' media platforms, including television, radio and outdoor.
Another aspect of the deal is the commitment to jointly
explore the development of programming for auto buffs on CBS' majority-owned cable
channel, The Nashville Network.
TNN -- which has touted itself as a premier source for
country-music and country-lifestyle programming, reaching more than 76 million households
in the United States and Canada -- is looking to shift its programming focus away from
country music and toward a more diverse, broad-based palette.
This strategic move was marked by last week's announcement
that several of its country-music talk/variety shows will be discontinued, including Prime
Time Country with Gary Chapman and Crook & Chase Tonight. TNN's new
programming slate will be announced in September.
CBS Cable's commitment to country-music and lifestyle
programming will now be heavily focused on its Country Music Television network. TNN's
arrangement with Wrenchead.com is an example of this strategic shift.
"TNN attracts a large audience of loyal motor-sports
fans and automotive enthusiasts who desire detailed, do-it-yourself instruction from TNN
programming and the easy access to automotive accessories that Wrenchead.com offers,"
TNN president David Hall said.
Hall pointed out that TNN research revealed that more than
23 million viewers of its motor-sports programming maintain and repair their own cars,
making them ripe for the Wrenchead.com service.
He noted that TNN's programming plans in conjunction with
Wrenchead.com may be unveiled as early as the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association
show, a major industry convention scheduled Nov. 2 through 5 in Las Vegas.
Hall also said content for Wrenchead.com may be jointly
developed, drawing upon the network's success with its wholly owned Country.com Web site,
which gets 11 million page views per month. "That's good for a site that doesn't sell
anything," he added.
TNN devotes a sizable portion of its programming slate to
both live and tape-delayed NASCAR and National Hot Rod Association events.
Westinghouse/CBS Cable acquired TNN in October 1997.
CBS' other Internet holdings include stakes in SportsLine
USA Inc., MarketWatch.com Inc., StoreRunner Inc., Office.com Inc., ThirdAge Media Inc.,
Medscape Inc. and Switchboard Inc.
It also recently entered into two other equity arrangements
for advertising and promotion with Rx.com Inc. and Hollywood.com Inc.