TV Guide opens print channel

Magazine to offer paid placements in program grid

During its 55-year history, TV Guide magazine has evolved its signature listings grid to include color, icons and banner advertisements. Now, for the first time, it is selling paid channel placements in its daily primetime grid.

Like the online paid-search model, TV Guide's Sponsored Spotlight program lets a network be featured in the top slot and be the only channel in the grid with a color logo. The program description also will appear slightly bigger but will be controlled by the magazine's editorial side.

Turner Entertainment Networks' TNT and TBS are the first to take advantage of the program, which launches in the May 11 issue. The networks will share the sponsored spot during a 12-week commitment as part of a larger print buy.

"We've done some creative ad placements within the grids, but this is the first time we've changed the traditional alpha placement of channels," said TV Guide president and CEO Scott Crystal, who would not disclose the rate charged for the sponsorship.

TV Guide is finding its footing after two ownership changes during the past year. In May 2008, Macrovision bought TV Guide parent Gemstar-TV Guide. Seven months later, Macrovision sold the magazine to OpenGate Capital, a private-equity firm.

Crystal said the magazine, which has lost money most of the past few years, was in the black for first-quarter 2009.