CBS (CBS) Loses At Musical Chairs

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Shares in CBS (CBS) are down almost 65% over the last year, much more than the DJIA and other major media companies.

Part of the reason is that the firm is poorly diversified and relies heavily on national broadcast TV for most of its revenue. The other issue often mentioned it that the media company has not built a road that will take it successfully into the digital age.

According to The Wall Street Journal, CBS wants its TV.com web property to compete with Google’s (GOOG) YouTube and Hulu.com, a site created by NBCU and several partners. The paper says that "Seeking a bigger slice of the online video space, CBS Corp.’s television site TV.com is bolstering its programming with more than a thousand full episodes of shows ranging from `Starsky & Hutch’ to `Dexter.’"

CBS taking a longer shot than it may know. YouTube is so dominant that it is used by half of the entire online consumers going to video sites. Aside from Hulu, all three major internet portals have heavily trafficked video sections and all the major media companies have video destinations of their own.

CBS is bucking the odds that consumer behavior online can be significantly altered. Hulu was able to do that, but it makes the job of it being done again by another company even more difficult. How many video sites will the typical person use?

CBS is too late to the market with TV.com, which means the enterprise won’t work.

Douglas A. McIntyre