It's official. CBS Interactive has signed up a big chunk of the Web world--including ZDNet parent CNET Networks--to distribute its video and shows like CSI, The Late Show with David Letterman and Survivor.
CBS' partners include AOL, Microsoft, CNET Networks, Comcast, Joost, Bebo, Brightcove, Netvibes, Sling Media and Veoh. Naturally, nearly every executive from those aforementioned companies had nice things to say in the CBS statement. All video in the effort--dubbed the CBS Interactive Audience Network--will be ad supported (see Techmeme discussion).
But let's fast forward to the biggest beneficiary--Akamai. Akamai will deliver the technology that will deliver CBS' video. Why fight the video battle when you can be the arms dealer? Akamai's technology caches content closer to the user to speed up delivery. It has more than 20,000 servers located around the world.
Simply put, Akamai will be the content delivery network underpinning CBS' online video effort. Akamai already counts Yahoo, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo and Apple (iTunes) as customers. It has 2,600 customers in total.
Akamai didn't elaborate much in the CBS statement beyond noting that its technology will ensure "business policies and rights associated with the content stay intact."
But Akamai's track record is good and it already had an in with CBS--Akamai's technology provisioned CBS' March Madness broadcasts online. Now that CBS is a much bigger customer Akamai has much of the Web locked down just in time to fend off competitors like Limelight Networks, which is expected to go public sometime this year.
Thus far, Akamai, which has acquired a host of smaller companies including Red Swoosh, Netli and Nine Systems, is dominant in the content delivery game. But competitors are emerging from smaller firms such as Panther Express, Limelight, CD Networks and Mirror Image.
More color on the CBS deal and Akamai's plans are likely to be disclosed on April 25 when the company reports first quarter earnings. Wall Street is expecting Akamai to report earnings of 28 cents a share on sales of $138.8 million, according to Thomson Financial.