Friday, March 4, 2011

CBS Acquires, Names Jim Lanzone President of CBS Interactive

Consolidation within the online video space has been a serious trend in 2011, and that fact was evident today with CBS announcing that it has acquired,  the "Internet TV Guide to What's on Online" and hired Jim Lanzone as its new President of CBS Interactive, who will head up CBS Interactive's worldwide operations and roster of Internet properties, including,,,, and Lanzone replaces outgoing President Neil Ashe, who had led CNET Networks which was sold to CBS in June 2008 for $1.8 Billion. Ashe announced in December 2010 that he would be stepping down and leaving the company once it found a successor and it looks like CBS has found the right man for the job with Lanzone and it has big plans for Clicker.

Lanzone was previously CEO of, where he and most of his team came from and he founded Clicker in January 2009. The Los Angeles-based company was in stealth mode until it's official launched at NewTeeVee Live in November 2009, as the programming guide for this new era of television. Clicker has roughly 2.5 million monthly visitors and catalogs all broadcast programming online, along with TV-quality Web originals and contains more than 1,000,000 episodes, from over 12,000 shows, from over 2,500 networks, 30,000 movies, and 90,000 music videos from 20,000 artists. Just 3 months after it launched in February 2010 Clicker raised $11 million to build out its revenue model for lead generation. Earlier this year Mashable named Clicker one of eight top tech companies to watch in 2011. Terms of the CBS Clicker deal were not disclosed but Techcrunch noted several sources that put the deal somewhere between $50 to $100 million. Other sources cited the deal only in the tens of millions range.

On the Clicker blog Lanzone wrote:
"It’s been an amazing 2+ years, first in stealth as we built the product that would become Clicker, and then the past 15 months or so after we launched to the public.  Clicker has built a peerless navigation and discovery experience for online programming, from core search to our proprietary recommendation engine to our social integration with Facebook. 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."
CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves praised Lanzone a leader and innovator:
"Jim is a dynamic, creative executive who knows the interactive space and its key players. In just over a year, Jim has created one of the leading navigation and discovery tools for video programming on the Internet. 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." 
On David Kaplan noted:
"In making the acquisition, CBS Interactive highlighted Clicker’s recommendation engine, Clicker Predict, and its social integration with Facebook, which claims that it offers 2.5 million monthly users an “instantly personalized guide to what’s worth watching online.” Clearly, CBS will hope to leverage that to get some more views for its online video, which still remains outside of rival broadcaster-backed Hulu’s system."
While on ReadwriteWeb Marshall Kirkpatrick called, a Giant Waste of Time and was both supportive and skeptical of Lanzone:

"I'm sure he's a very capable executive and here's the supportive way to articulate the significance of the news: a respected internet leader will now be charged with helping move into a new, unknown and disruptive technology economy a large, century old institution, rich with accumulated history and talent for creating high-production content that speaks to hundreds of millions of people. A less charitable take on the news: A man who helped bring the cultural sedative of mainstream TV to the glorious frontier of the Internet will now be in charge of extending that winning recipe of shimmering vacuousness made web-friendly to a much larger audience."

I spoke with Lanzone last year to hear about how Clicker got started cataloging what's on online, how the website works, what actually is Clicker's revenue model and, his general thoughts on the online video and Internet television space. I've republished my interview with him from Streaming Media East 2010 below.

Also, in related news, earlier this week Rovi acquired Slidereel and launched, a YouTube-like video and music site now in beta that uses a search and recommendation technology in a similar way as Clicker. Based on their activity on users can receive customized recommendations, find favorites, review ratings and make new discoveries based on their entertainment preferences. Read more on: - Executive brief: Battle for the online remote.

About CBS Interactive
CBS Interactive is the premier online content network for information and entertainment.  Its brands dive deep into the things people care most about across news, sports, entertainment, technology and business.  Leading properties include CNET,,,, BNet,, and much more.  With hundreds of millions of unique visitors from around the world each month, CBS Interactive is a global top 10 web property and the largest premium content network online.

About Clicker
Clicker is the ultimate guide to Internet television. As massive amounts of programming move online, consumers are entering a world of infinite choices, all on-demand. Great! Finding the show you want to watch? Painful. Thousands of episodes from thousands of shows are housed on thousands of different sites, mixed amongst billions of random videos. Clicker culls all broadcast programming, and TV-quality Web originals, from these silos and delivers them in one seamless, organized experience so you can easily find, save, share and even contribute content for any show or episode online. Check out Clicker on Facebook or Clicker on Twitter.

Updated 3/5/2011: A few corrections and additional quote by Marshall Kirkpatrick.