Sony Pictures Entertainment has bought out AT&T’s minority stake in the Game Show Network, the 24-year-old ad-supported cable TV network, for just over $500 million. That gives Sony 100% ownership of the channel.
Sony had owned a 58% stake in the network, while AT&T owned the remaining 42%.
AT&T’s DirecTV had owned a majority stake in the network since 2011, and then a minority stake after selling an equity piece to Sony in 2012.
Sony says the deal is constructed of AT&T’s stake, valued at $380 million, as well as dividends of about $130 million. The deal will help AT&T pay down billions in debt from its recent acquisitions, including its $81 billion deal for Time Warner.
Game Show Network will continue to be managed by Sony Pictures Television. Mark Feldman remains as president-CEO of the network.
Game Show Network reportedly has an 80-million U.S. subscriber footprint, with total national-regional advertising revenues estimated to be $132.8 million for the November 2018-November 2019 period, according to iSpot.tv.
Major advertisers over that period include Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Life Alert, Geico, Peloton, Nutrisystem and Liberty Mutual.
In 2018, the Game Show Network averaged a Nielsen-measured 419,000 viewers in prime time -- up 11% versus the year before -- and ranked in 32nd place among cable networks.
For several decades, Sony has owned two of the top U.S. first-run syndicated TV shows in terms of viewership: “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy.”