What is Clicker, and Why Did CBS Acquire It?

CBS Corp. (CBS) made a big splash in the tech world today, announcing it has acquired online television guide Clicker.com and named the site's co-founder and CEO, Jim Lanzone, as the new President of CBS Interactive. What exactly is Clicker, and just what would the "Tiffany network" want with a fairly new-to-the-game TV guide for the Web?

CBS Corp. (CBS) made a big splash in the tech world today, announcing it has acquired online television guide Clicker.com and named the site’s co-founder and CEO, Jim Lanzone, as the new President of CBS Interactive. What exactly is Clicker, and just what would the “Tiffany network” want with a fairly new-to-the-game TV guide for the Web?

The acquisition by CBS comes just 18 months after Clicker.com launched as a start-up for viewers to find, browse and navigate online videos across a wide range of services and on connected devices.

The site, based in Los Angeles, has roughly 2.5 million monthly visitors who use the service to find TV shows, movies and videos broadcast over the Web, CBS said.

The move by CBS could be just as much about acquiring Lanzone as acquiring Clicker itself.

With the deal, Lanzone will replace outgoing CBS Interactive president Neil Ashe, who announced last year his intentions to step down once a successor had been named. Lanzone will now oversee all CBS Interactive properties, from CNET.com, TV.com and CBS.com, to CBSSports.com, CBSNews.com and Gamespot.com. Lanzone previously served as CEO of search engine Ask.com. After leaving Ask, Lanzone joined Redpoint Ventures as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence, and raised $8 million to develop Clicker in October 2008.

“In just over a year, Jim has created one of the leading navigation and discovery tools for video programming on the Internet,” CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves said in a release. “Clicker’s products and proprietary technologies add firepower to our existing portfolio of entertainment properties, and if we can help grow Clicker to its full potential in the years ahead, the strategic value could be tremendous.”

In terms of Clicker, CBS had to see the site as a welcome addition to its own TV.com, which provides data on TV shows broadcast over the last 40 years to help viewers find live and mobile content.

CBS has been working to grow its mobile lineup and made sure to highlight in the announcement that it had “grown into a top 10 global Internet property with hundreds of millions of unique visitors from around the world each month.” In making the acquisition, CBS Interactive also highlighted Clicker’s recommendation engine, Clicker Predict, and the leverage it could provide to get more views for its own online video archive.

Clicker’s recent moves towards integrating with social networks like Facebook were also cited by CBS as it seeks to engage viewers with more personalized recommendations and social features.

And the benefits for Clicker, as a start-up acquired by a major network, are fairly clear.

“As we look to the future, CBS has the kind of platform that can take Clicker to the next level as we look to create a lasting, meaningful brand and destination. We couldn’t be happier to become part of their family now,” Lanzone said on the Clicker blog.

“What should our users do in light of this news? Act natural! Seriously. Keep sending us your comments and ideas, and we’ll keep building Clicker into the product you need it to be.”

Exact terms of the Clicker purchase were not disclosed.