The initial launch of the overhauled site (www.cbs.com) will be in early September to kick off the opening of CBS' fall season. Kaufman beat out interactive shops including Razorfish and Pittard Sullivan to gain the business. (Grey Advertising has a major investment in Kaufman.) The previous agency for CBS' site was original.com.
CBS declined to elaborate on its interactive plans, other than to confirm hiring Kaufman.
The winning pitch for the network was themed "Eye on the Net" and included suggestions ranging from a page dedicated to Jim Dial, the fictional newscaster from CBS' "Murphy Brown," to the creation of chat rooms, contests and trivia games.
"We wanted to put a lot more depth to the content that they have for the shows," said Kaufman co-founder Trevor Kaufman, who added that they are creating an easily navigable site which is "clean and ascetic."
"They're trying to court younger viewers via the Web," said Mr. Kaufman, who noted the median age of CBS' audience is 51.
Mark Patricof, Kaufman co-founder with Mr. Kaufman, said the agency plans to highlight the network's "very valuable brands" including talk show host David Letterman, CBS News and "60 Minutes."
"This is not just a promotion vehicle," Mr. Patricof said.
CBS WON'T SELL WEB ADS
And that will be a change for the CBS site, whose content was described in a July 1997 report by Jupiter Communications as "purely promotional, repurposed content from CBS television programs."
The most in-depth content, the report notes, revolved around the "Late Show With David Letterman."
CBS won't be selling ads on its main site, at least for now, although it does sell ads on CBS SportsLine, which also has more than 35,000 paying subscribers. News sites of the other major networks, including NBC, ABC and Fox, are ad-supported to some extent.
Mr. Patricof also said CBS is striving to add a branding aspect to its programming blocks, which include "Monday Night Comedy Club" and the "CBS Block Party." Kaufman will create "a specific look for each block," he said, adding