TV Guide Buyer Still Shopping


Media investor Allen Shapiro, after striking a $300 million deal to buy TV Guide Network, said he and his backers want to make more acquisitions in the programming space.

Shapiro and One Equity Partners agreed to purchase TV Guide Network from Macrovision Solutions for $255 million in cash. The price could hit $300 million if an additional $45 million in earn-out provisions is exercised by 2012.

“This will absolutely be the starting point,” Shapiro said of his acquisition plans. He wouldn't tip his hand on potential targets, but said he's looking in the media space.

With backing from One Equity, the private-equity arm of investment banking giant J.P. Morgan, Shapiro believes he has deep enough pockets to make deals.

“We have plans for additional acquisitions,” he said.

In the meantime, Shapiro, the one-time CEO of Dick Clark Productions, has plans for TV Guide Network that include investing in new programming, with more details to come after the sale is finalized (expected by April 1).

“I'm in the entertainment business and I think Macrovision, as they represent themselves, are in the patent and systems business. So we will be much more supportive of programming,” he said.

Shapiro also said that, over time, the network will phase out the scrolling channel listing that was the network's initial reason to exist.

The bottom-of-the-screen rolling listing has increasingly lost relevance as cable operators moved their subscribers to digital set-tops and electronic program guides. TV Guide Network itself has been moved to digital tiers on some cable systems.

“Clearly, over time as we go to digital, the guide will be less important and be in less and less homes,” Shapiro said. “You will be able to think of this more as a full-service entertainment network and a programming network as opposed to a utility network. Our plan is to expand on that.”

TV Guide Network, under president Ryan O'Hara, has revamped its programming lineup to comprise a mix of celebrity-oriented shows like Hollywood 411 and TV Watercooler and reruns of American Idol — branded as American Idol Rewind.

“We plan to build on what they have now,” Shapiro said. “Right now, the most important thing is that in a challenging time, we managed to complete a transaction.”

Macrovision Solutions bought TV Guide Network parent Gemstar-TV Guide International in May for about $2.8 billion in cash and stock and put the network on the block shortly after closing that deal. Earlier, it sold TV Guide magazine to venture capital firm OpenGate Capital for $1 in cash and the assumption of debt and is attempting to sell horse-racing network TVG.

Macrovision initially valued TV Guide Network — which reaches 83 million homes — at $408 million.