Online social music site Last.fm has been acquired by US media giant CBS for US$280m in cash, the largest deal made to date with a UK social networking site.
CBS, an old-media organisation who own the largest radio group in the US, is following in the footsteps of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, who bought MySpace back in 2005 for US$580m.
Martin Stiksel, founding member of Last.fm, said that the site’s acquisition by CBS would not affect its operation as an independent entity.
However, Stiksel said that this deal opened up new avenues for the site, which has over 15 million regular users, allowing for greater access to music and video content.
In February of this year, Last.fm made a deal with EMI Music in Eurpoe to enable its users to listen to music from EMI artists like Kylie Minogue and Robbie Williams.
CBS has been quietly building its presence in the social networking space recently, creating partnerships with popular sites like Meebo, Ning, and RockYou!.
Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive, said: “We now want to empower our audience to be creative and deepen their experience with our content by allowing them to share and embed CBS-provided clips to their blogs, wikis, widgets, community sites and whatever else gets thrown our way.”
This recent move by CBS to get a share of the Web 2.0 audience follows from the announcement in recent months by its rivals NBC and News Corp to jointly set up an online portal video portal in the face of YouTube’s market dominance.
CBS said of the Last.fm acquisition that this was intended to gain younger viewers and listeners to its content, saying that is felt the community music site was one of the fastest-growing and better-established social networking sites out there.
By Marie Boran