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The private-equity owners of TV Guide would like to sell the magazine — preferably to someone who would combine it with TVGuide.com and the TV Guide Network.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that OpenGate Capital, which purchased TV Guide in 2008, is open to the suggestion of reuniting the three assets. According to published reports, the TV network and website, which are owned by Lionsgate and One Equity Partners, are both for sale. The network could fetch as much as $350 million, while the website might generate a bid in the $20 million range.
But when combined with the print magazine, a reunited company could go for $400 million or more and possibly attract more bidders.
Four years ago, OpenGate paid just $1 for the 59-year-old TV Guide, plus the assumption of liability to the tune of 3 million subscribers at roughly $20 apiece. The magazine boasted $125 million in annual revenue back then but was losing $15 million a year. OpenGate reorganized it and insiders say the magazine earns as much as $5 million annually on $70 million revenue. TV Guide has boasted 2 million subscribers, 100,000 rack sales and an audience of 10 million each week.
“The focus has moved from ‘when to watch’ to ‘what to watch,’ and people have always valued TV Guide’s input,” said an insider. “It’s a profitable business. But a brand should be aggregated under one roof.”
TVGuide.com has its own staff that reports, writes posts and produces original video. Under a licensing deal between the two entities, TV Guide magazine’s content, original reporting and news also is posted on the site.
Yahoo has been eyed as a potential bidder for TVGuide.com, while CBS and Discovery Communications are said to be those considering a bid for TV Guide Network. It’s not known who, if anyone, has kicked the tires of TV Guide magazine.
According to sources close to the situation, talk of partners Lionsgate and One Equity considering selling the network and website first prompted the notion that those two properties should be packaged for sale along with the magazine.
“Buyers are looking for the three pieces to work in harmony with one editorial direction,” says another person with knowledge of the desire to package the three assets, a plan that is in the very early stages of discussion.
In a statement to THR, OpenGate Capital’s CEO denied that the magazine was for sale.
“It is true that TV Guide magazine has enjoyed tremendous success in recent years and remains one of the most iconic brands in publishing, but let me be clear: the magazine is not for sale,” said Andrew Nikou, founder and CEO of OpenGate.
Lionsgate declined to comment.
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