CBS Agrees To Purchase 50% of TV Guide

Channel Will Remain ‘Entertainment Focused’ 3/26/2013 12:26 PM Eastern

CBS made it official late Tuesday, announcing a deal to acquire a 50% interest in TV Guide, parent of cable network TVGN and the web site. first reported March 22 that CBS was close to a deal. CBS will purchase the 50% interest from JP Morgan’s One Equity Partners for an undisclosed sum. Deadline and other news outlets had earlier reported the stake could sell for about $100 million.

Movie studio Lionsgate, which owns the other half of TV Guide,  first purchased the network and web site in 2009 for $240 million.  It sold a 50% interest to One Equity later that year for about $120 million.

The deal will pair CBS’s programming, production and marketing assets with Lionsgate’s resources in movies, television and digitally delivered content.

The deal also beefs up CBS’s non-broadcast distribution assets, which consisted of premium network Showtime and CBS Sports before the Lionsgate deal.  Lionsgate, which also produces shows like Weeds and Nurse Jackie for Showtime, gets a deep-pocketed partner with strong programming chops.

CBS said the deal closed at signing today, adding that the cable channel “will continue to be entertainment-focused, with a specific rebranding and programming strategy to be announced at a later date.”

 “This is a strategic way for CBS to use its content brands and gain access to a highly distributed basic cable network that has a lot of upside,” said CBS CEO Leslie Moonves in a statement.  “Lionsgate, led by my friend Jon Feltheimer, is a forward-thinking content company and a great partner for us here.  We’re excited to bring CBS’s programming and production assets to the venture, and work with Lionsgate to rebrand and grow a channel that will be increasingly valuable to our carriage partners.”

TV Guide, which is available in about 80 million homes, had been on the block for about a year.   Lionsgate has beefed up the network's content, adding original programming like comedy series StandUp in Stilettos, reality shows Nail Files and Wilson Phillips: Still Holding On and acquired programming like Celebrity Style Story and Rove LA. Rounding out the lineup are the channel’s red carpet specials across the entertainment industry’s award season and movies like Driving Miss Daisy and The Fugitive.

“We couldn’t be in business with a better blue-chip strategic partner than CBS or a more visionary CEO than our friend Les Moonves,” said Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer and vice chairman Michael Burns in a joint statment.  “Their track record speaks for itself, and we believe that the combination of our two brands and our complementary assets will elevate TVGN to the next level of performance and enable it to fulfill its promise as a significant branded entertainment channel.” 

Moelis & Company and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz advised TVGN on the transaction.

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