CBS Restarts Cross-Selling Division: CBS Connections

Following up on a similar move by News Corp., CBS Corp. will restart a national media cross-selling division under a new banner, CBS Connections. The new unit will offer ad opportunities combining CBS Entertainment, CBS News, CBS Interactive, CBS Sports, CBS Paramount Television, CBS Television Distribution, CSTV, Showtime, CBS Radio and CBS Outdoor.

CBS senior vice president Fred Sawabini will run CBS Connections, reporting to Jo Ann Ross, president of sales for the CBS Television Network.

CBS Connections would replace the 6-year old national cross-selling division, Viacom Plus, abandoned last year after Viacom and CBS Corp. split up as one company. (They are now two separate publicly traded companies.) Sawabini had been a vice president Viacom Plus.

"We never stopped being in this business," said CBS' Ross. "We thought to announce this right before the upfront was a little more strategic."

Now, as a smaller but growing media company, CBS doesn't want to miss out on integrated-media revenues that marketers desire. Cross-selling groups at Walt Disney, with Disney-ABC Unlimited, and at Time Warner, have been major consistent players with integrated-media deals.



Cross-platform selling units can attract $400 million to $500 million per year in revenue for a major media company. Viacom Plus benefited from one of the largest annual deals with Procter & Gamble, which is valued at $350 million a year, according to analysts.

"It's not every client that is looking at doing cross-platform deals," says Ross. Typically, it is "bigger clients that have deeper pockets." CBS expects to do about a dozen such deals in the coming year.

CBS Connections will work with the other recent new CBS ad division, CBS Interactive Network, which aggregates inventory across all CBS digital outlets. "This is something the advertisers have been screaming about for some time," said Ross.

Late last year, CBS started up a local cross-platform selling division, called RIOT, which stands for radio, Internet, outdoor and television. CBS Connections will also work with CBS Riot, a cross-platform sales unit focused on local opportunities. This is the second major media company to get back into the cross-platform media selling game. Last month, News Corp. said it was launching Fox One, which sells packages of Fox network; its cable networks, including FX; marketing opportunities with Fox Filmed Entertainment; and a number of other News Corp. properties. Longtime Fox advertising sale executive, Jean Rossi, heads up Fox One.

Earlier this year, Viacom also started a separate cross-selling division within its MTV Networks group headed by Lisa McCarthy, who formerly ran Viacom Plus.Viacom Plus was an outgrowth of CBS Plus, which launched in 1998. Former Viacom president and COO Mel Karmazin was a major force in pushing cross-media deals for the division.

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