CBS hopes Web will bite on Bulldog

CBS continued its push towards an online portal, taking majority ownership of, a sweepstakes site with a number of high-powered content partners.

CBS continued its push towards an online portal, taking majority ownership of, a sweepstakes site with a number of high-powered content partners.

The push is part of Project Bulldog, CBS's portal plan, as first reported on ZDNN. The name comes from CTC Bulldog Inc., which runs CBS gave CTC Bulldog $70 million in advertising in exchange for majority control of

"iWon is a unique product unlike any on the Web," said CBS CEO Mel Karmazin in a statement. "We believe it has the opportunity to build a powerful and successful destination portal for all types of Web users that is both useful and fun."

Indeed, the stakes are high in the traffic game on the Web, and CBS, late to the portal game, needs to play catch up. Potentially "sticky" sites like iWon can help drive that traffic, analysts say.

"I think rewards programs are going to be extremely important in the future," said Ken Lim, an analyst at CyberMedia Convergence Consulting in Cupertino, Calif. "The concept of stickiness is fine, but (it will be difficult) when you have a billion Web sites that users can possibly visit. Rewards is one of the many things that people will try."

Giving away millions offers users sweepstakes prizes of $10,000 a day, $1 million a month and $10 million on tax day in exchange for users' registration information.

iWon emerged from its stealth beginnings by launching its site today and has received thousands of registrations in its first official day of registration, according to Jon Broad, iWon's director of marketing.

By using any of iWon's features -- including its search function, to send and receive email, go shopping, and read the news -- users automatically earn entries into the three sweepstakes. Drawings are made daily and posted onto the home page.

iWon has cultivated business partnerships with the likes of Inktomi, which makes search software for content and ecommerce; plus content partners,;;;;;; and

Broad thinks of the model of giving away millions to users an investment in attracting and retaining users, which translates into advertising and e-commerce revenue.

"We think of (the sweepstakes) as a marketing expenditure," Broad said. It is a cost of acquiring and retaining consumers."

The sweepstakes site also has made deals with e-commerce partners, from whom they will receive cuts of transactions that iWon sends their way. Banner advertising and sponsorships also are in iWon's revenue model plans.

The deal is also consistent with CBS's strategy of swapping multi-year, multi-million dollar advertising and branding deals in exchange for stakes in popular Internet destinations, such as SportsLine (Nasdaq:SPLN) and MarketWatch (Nasdaq:MKTW)

But CBS has not previously taken a majority stake in such a company.


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