I've taken some heat, mostly via e-mail for being more than a bit cantankerous lately in terms of how the EYE network is handling parts of its lineup. Particularly, I've railed on CBS about placing shows like Big Brother and Jericho in timeslots where reruns of its crime dramas or Two and a Half Men would not only fare better, but vastly better.
My analysis has nothing to do with the shows, or the content. I'm not a Big Brother fan, but I'm not an American Idol fan either. But American Idol prints cash for FOX in spades. Printing as much cash as you can is what the game is all about, so the fact that I don't personally like American Idol doesn't matter - I like what FOX is doing.
But I don't like what CBS is doing. FOX seems to be going for optimization. I like optimization. It's why I think of Google as such a great company. Google optimizes to make as much cash as it possibly can. While it's true Google is dominant when it comes to search, there are cases to be made that more people spend more time (more "engagement" if, you prefer such terms) with AOL and Yahoo sites than they do on Google.
Yahoo can put out whatever press releases it wants to in terms of engagement, but the market tells the story. While Google has had a bad run of things (the stock is under $500 as I write this), the market cap of Google at this time is $156 billion versus $38 billionish for Yahoo. FOUR TIMES the valuation. Engagement doesn't mean anything if you can't actually monetize it.
In complete fairness, it should be noted that CBS, Yahoo, and probably your mom's blog do a better job of monetizing than TVbytheNumbers, but that's completely beside the point. The point is making as much cash as you possibly can. When I look at FOX and what it does as a television network, and when I look at CBS and what it does - for me, it's definitely trending that FOX is to GOOG as CBS is to YHOO. If I was a shareholder of CBS, I wouldn't like the trend, which seems to match the last five month trend of the CBS stock price. Of course, CBS has a market cap of less than half of YHOO as I write this ($17 billion-ish), so it's still better to be Yahoo than CBS.
Because FOX is wrapped up in the News Corp empire, it's hard to make relative comparisons (News Corp has a market cap of ~$59 billion as of this writing), and its stock has fared similarly to CBS over the last five months (down), but when I look at FOX vs. CBS, CBS seems negligent in its performance. My old pal Kara Swisher from the Wall Street Journal has harassed Yahoo about such negligence for eons, and though I think she has sometimes been too hard on Yahoo, the one thing she hasn't been is wrong.
Am I a little too hard on CBS? Probably. The question is: am I wrong? Time will tell.