CNET Launching Tech On-Demand

Apr 17, 2006  •  Post A Comment

TechTV is back-kind of.

Former TechTV Chief Operating Officer Joe Gillespie is set to announce the launch of a tech-centric video-on-demand service that will debut on Cox this summer. Now serving as executive VP of CNET, Mr. Gillespie is launching the new CNET TV service, which will provide about three hours of CNET-produced short-form original programming per month for Cox subscribers. The content will be advertiser-supported, with Best Buy signing on as charter sponsor.

“In many ways, VOD gets to the problem we couldn’t solve at TechTV: How do you program a channel on a linear basis on a subject that changes as fast as technology and where no two consumers have the same desires and problems?” Mr. Gillespie said. “I’m highly bullish we’re going to have ubiquitous distribution. Technology is not a category anymore, it’s a lifestyle.”

The deal is also a tad unusual as it brings CNET-owner of news and review Web sites such as TV.com, GameSpot.com and Metacritic.com-into television when most networks want to get into the Internet business.

“You have brands going from TV to broadband; now you have broadband going to TV,” said Bruce Leichtman, president of Leichtman Research Group. “I guess you can see it as no-lose for either side. People should not expect it to be a home run out of the gate, however, as it’s yet another niche VOD service and it will take time to find users.”

The content will include videos from CNET online franchises such as “Insider Secrets,” “Weekend Project” and “First Look From the Labs.”

In anticipation of the launch, CNET has been adding video content to its Web sites for more than a year. “Nothing demystifies technology like video,” Mr. Gillespie said.

The Cox deal is the second television content pact brokered by CNET in recent weeks. Last month, GameSpot announced it would produce two original series for Gameplay HD, the new gaming channel from Voom HD Networks.