ViacomCBS Selling CNET Media Group for $500 Million

Zeroing in, during the pandemic, on streaming, ViacomCBS appears to have little room for other businesses such as CNET, Simon & Shuster publishing and commercial office space.

The corporate parent to Paramount Pictures Sept. 14 disclosed it has secured a $500 million sale of its CNET Media Group to private equities group Red Ventures. The transaction, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter, is subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.

CNET Media Group is a pioneer in digital media, with an expansive portfolio of digital media brands that advise consumers across consumer tech, business tech, gaming, and entertainment media brands, including ZDNet, in B2B focused content and Gamespot, a video games information brand. The portfolio also includes entertainment and lifestyle brands TVGuideMetacritic, and Chowhound.

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“I believe that the combination of Red Ventures customer experience platform and CNET Media Group’s rich content and deep editorial expertise greatly benefits both our audiences and our partners,” Mark Larkin, EVP and GM of CNET Media Group, said in a statement. “Red Ventures shares our vision and is committed to realizing the full potential of our portfolio of world-class brands.”

Larkin and his senior team will remain with the company to continue their leadership of the CNET Media Group team following the acquisition.

ViacomCBS Looking to Sell CNET, Publisher Simon & Schuster

With its renewed streaming video corporate focus, ViacomCBS reportedly is looking to sell digital news platform CNETto a private equity group for around $500 million.

First reported by The Wall Street Journal, which cited sources familiar with the situation, ViacomCBS is looking to shed all non-essential business assets — including publisher Simon & Schuster — in an effort to save $800 million in cost synergies this year from the 2019 merger. The Journal said the deal between ViacomCBS and Fort Mill, S.C.-based Red Ventures could still fall apart.

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ViacomCBS, whose assets include Paramount Pictures, Pluto TV and CBS All Access, is focusing on launching a unified SVOD platform around the CBS brand name.

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During the company’s most-recent fiscal call, the media company said it ended the period with 16.2 million domestic subscription streaming VOD subscribers via CBS All Access and Showtime OTT. It also claimed 26.5 million active monthly Pluto TV users, up 61% from a year ago.