Macrovision Sells 'TV Guide'

Macrovision announced Monday afternoon that is has sold TV Guide Magazine to a private equity firm, OpenGate Capital. Macrovision said this is the first in a series of planned sales of properties that are not part of its core strategy, including TV Guide Network and the TV Guide Games Network. It will retain Gemstar, the other component of Gemstar-TV Guide, which it acquired in May.

Gemstar's video scheduling technology will be part of Macrovision's system, still in development, to simplify and streamline the process of locating and watching digital video for consumers.

Fred Amoroso, president and CEO of Macrovision, explained: "A primary goal of the Gemstar-TV Guide acquisition was the consolidation of key technology assets, including the interactive program guides, connected services and device connectivity needed to provide consumers with a uniquely simple digital home entertainment experience. The TV Guide Magazine divestiture marks a significant milestone toward achieving this goal as the streamlined business model improves the company's ability to execute its strategic plan."



For its part, OpenGate Capital specializes in corporate divestitures and turnaround acquisitions--meaning that it scoops up struggling businesses and tries to make them profitable again. Acquisition by OpenGate is the latest twist in the saga of TV Guide, which saw the digest-sized publication collapse earlier this decade amid big changes in media consumption and a management scandal, then reinvent itself in October 2006 as a full-size magazine.

Beginning in the 1990s, the original, smaller version of the publication was overwhelmed by the proliferation of cable TV channels, and then the rapid expansion of online video choices. Ad pages fell 65%, from 3,195 in 2000 to just 926 in 2006. As if one set of problems weren't enough, the structural shift in media was accompanied by a high-profile management scandal. In 2006 Henry Yuen, the former CEO of Gemstar-TV Guide International, was convicted of securities fraud for lying about Gemstar-TV Guide's revenues to inflate the company's revenues by $248 million in 2000-2002, also inflating its stock price.

After Yuen's fraud was revealed in April 2002, the company lost about $3 billion in market value. Yuen was ousted in October 2002 at the behest of shareholder News Corp. More recently, in May 2007, Yuen was also charged with obstruction of justice for destroying documents related to the previous investigation; having failed to turn himself in to authorities, he is now considered a fugitive from justice.

TV Guide has recovered somewhat since its relaunch as a full-sized magazine in October 2006. Ad pages rose 23% from 926 in 2006 to 1,138 in 2007. Giving up its original mission of providing a comprehensive guide to all TV programming, the new version focuses on more celebrity coverage, while filtering the masses of TV programming to provide readers with "best of" listings.

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