CNN, CBS, NBC, Joost Make New Web Moves

TV networks were busy with Web expansions yesterday, as CNN bought an equity stake in Internet Broadcasting, CBS Interactive bought Wallstrip, and NBC Universal adopted a new ad format from Unicast. Also, soon-to-launch Internet TV service Joost signed up with Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

CNN joined Hearst-Argyle Television, Post-Newsweek Stations, McGraw-Hill Broadcasting and Split Rock Partners as investors in Internet Broadcasting, which runs a network of more than 70 news and information sites for local TV stations nationwide. In addition to stations owned by the parent companies, the company also publishes sites for NBC, Cox, Meredith, Scripps and Morgan stations.

CNN and Internet Broadcasting said they will now allow advertisers to combine CNN.com's national reach with the regional reach of the local news sites; Internet Broadcasting will offer select CNN.com ad placements as part of its nationwide, regional or market-by-market ad packages. On the editorial side, the companies will share local, national and international news content.

(Two other providers to local TV station Web sites also made announcements yesterday: WorldNow, whose publishing platform is used by 130 TV station sites, partnered with Magid Media Futures for audience surveys, and MediaSpan said its ad network had added 75 TV and newspaper sites, for a total now surpassing 1,300 affiliates.

Wallstrip, the six-month-old irreverent online financial video show, used an irreverent news video with its on-air host Lindsay Campbell to confirm that it had indeed been acquired by CBS Interactive. Purchase price was not announced.

NBC became the first publisher signed to use Unicast's new InteractiveX ad format--which allows advertisers to showcase multiple videos in a custom ad unit. When a user watching online video selects one of the videos from the ad, it plays over the original video content, and the original program resumes once the marketing message ends.

Meanwhile, Yvette Alberdingk Thijm, executive vice president, content strategy and acquisition for Joost, which has already announced a slew of content and advertising deals, said CAA will help in its efforts to secure "more high-quality, professionally produced programming." Michael Yanover, head of business development at CAA, pointed to the agency's "relationships with networks, studios, record labels, artists and independently controlled content library."

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