The ad buy, which will include series-branded animated wallpaper and a roadblock featured on the TVGuide.com home page, is also a signal to Madison Avenue that the TV Guide brand -- at least as it exists online -- isn't your father's TV listings guide. Actually, TVGuide.com technically is no longer affiliated with the printed magazine that spawned it, and the A&E ad deal illustrates just how different the two forms of publishing have diverged.
TV Guide magazine, which debuted April 3, 1953 with a cover story featuring Lucille Ball's and Desi Arnaz's baby, is now operated by private equity group OpenGate Capital, while TVGuide.com and the TV Guide television network are owned by Lionsgate Entertainment Corp., as a result of a series of transactions that split up the assets of the multiplatform media brand. TVGuide.com, which re-launched two years ago as an online portal for all television content online, meanwhile has grown to proportions that would rival, well, the old TV Guide print brand, which in its heyday in the early 1980s, had a circulation of 20 million copies a week. TVGuide.com now attracts 19 million monthly unique users, making it one of, if not the biggest, TV content destination on the Internet.
TV Guide's print circulation, meanwhile, has fallen to about 3 million, and when it was sold to OpenGate, it fetched a price tag of only $1 - plus the assumption of an estimated $100 million in subscription liabilities.
So what better way to help differentiate the thriving Web publication from its aged print counterpart, then to radically overhaul its iconic logo - if only for a one-day takeover stunt. It's just one of several innovative advertising deals Paul Greenberg, executive vice president and general manager of TV Guide Online, and his team are working on to shake the dust of the stodgy listings guide image.
The reality, Greenberg told MediaDailyNews, is that TVGuide.com has emerged as the premiere destination for all forms of television content online - both traditional listings, as well as a complete guide to all television content that is being made available online - and much of it viewable directly from the TVGuide.com site itself.
Add one of the most passionate communities surrounding any form of media content, and you can understand Greenberg's claim that TVGuide.com is now the "one-stop destination" for online television content, which isn't such a bad position to have given the direction of the online video industry.
The key, he said, is retaining the authoritative and comprehensive image of the old TV Guide listings brand, but to keep it fresh, contemporary and dynamic for a younger, Web-savvy audience of media consumers. The positioning has worked, enabling TVGuide.com to rival entrenched online sources such as TV.com, and EntertainmentWeekly.com among users, and now, apparently, among some traditional TV advertisers too.