ViacomCBS sells CNET Media for less than half what CBS paid in 2008

CNET Media Group is a global technology news brand, publisher of titles such as Gamespot. <span class="copyright">(CNET)</span>
CNET Media Group is a global technology news brand, publisher of titles such as Gamespot. (CNET)

Marketing and technology company Red Ventures confirmed it sealed a $500-million deal to acquire ViacomCBS’s digital news publisher CNET Media Group.

ViacomCBS had been in talks since February to offload the 25-year-old publisher, which owns business tech and gaming titles such as Gamespot and ZDNet and entertainment brands including Metacritic, in a deal first reported in August by the Wall Street Journal.

Red Ventures, which owns a portfolio of popular digital brands such as the Points Guy and Bankrate, said in a statement it was eager to invest in CNET Media.

“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,” said Mark Larkin, executive vice president of CNET Media Group. Larkin and his senior team will stay on after the deal, Red Ventures said. The deal will close in the fourth quarter, it said.

The sale follows pressure on ViacomCBS to streamline operations since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. The media company said in May it would cut as many as 400 jobs. While furloughs and layoffs have swept through the media industry as advertisers shrank spending, Viacom and CBS have been undergoing a reorganization after their merger that closed in December. The company also is facing stiff competition as its peers launch new streaming services.

CBS acquired San Francisco-based CNET for $1.8 billion in 2008. ViacomCBS has been looking to offload CNET since February, according to Bloomberg.

Red Ventures, based in Fort Mill, S.C., was created in 2000 and now includes more than 100 digital brands with more than 3,000 employees across the U.S., Britain and Brazil.

“Every aspect of our lives — from our homes to our jobs, our income, and our well-being — is impacted by the technology around us, so the content we consume and the brands we choose are highly personal,”said Marc McCollum, president of Red Ventures’ media & technology group. “Adding CNET Media Group to our portfolio will further advance our mission to help people make some of the most important decisions of their lives.”

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