The executive considered the primary architect of CBS’s high-profile SportsLine and MarketWatch joint ventures has been given control of all new media ventures at the network.
Derek Reisfield, who will hold the newly created title of president of the New Media Group, is charged with plotting more mergers, navigating an initial public offering for CBS MarketWatch and, as his primary task, building the nascent CBSnow into a major online news property.
Dean Daniels, vice president and general manager for CBS New Media, will continue in his role and will report to Reisfield. Reisfield will oversee business development for CBS SportsLine, CBS MarketWatch, a joint venture with Data Broadcasting Corp., and CBSnow, the network of local news sites pooled by the CBS affiliates.
Reisfield was mum about other online partners for CBS, but added any such deals will initially be struck to support the growth of news, sports and finance properties. As for MarketWatch, in which CBS owns a 50 percent stake, Reisfield said he had no timeline for a public offering, but he did compare its business plan to that of SportsLine, which had its IPO in November, eight months after the CBS investment was finalized.
CBSnow, the most recent venture to launch, will be Reisfield’s primary focus as he concentrates on building traffic and revenue streams for the online news network. “We’re still trying to figure out how to leverage the assets and the relationships with the affiliates. We want to make them as successful as possible,” he said, adding that the media company will continue to promote all online properties heavily in its traditional media programming.
For now, Reisfield has not indicated an interest in TV/PC convergence projects. “The question is, how do you make it a real business?” he said. “We’ll experiment cautiously. But when we try something, we’ll understand what the financial model is.”
Since 1996, when CBS chief executive officer Michael H. Jordan brought Reisfield into what was then Westinghouse Electric, the New Media Group has grown from three people with a budget for a single election-coverage site to an operation with a staff of about 300. Today, SportsLine alone is an asset worth more than a $100 million to CBS, and Reisfield figures CBS MarketWatch “is potentially more valuable for us.”
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