Macrovision sells struggling magazine for cheap

A dollar won’t buy you a cup of coffee these days, but it will buy you TV Guide. No, not an issue of the weekly mag — those go for $2.99 — but the entire publication.

Yep, $1. The eye-popping sale price was disclosed Thursday in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing from TV Guide owner Macrovision, which revealed it had struck a deal to sell the magazine to venture capital firm OpenGate Capital on Monday (Daily Variety, Oct. 14).

In fact, the deal is even sweeter for OpenGate because Macrovision has also agreed to give the firm a $9.5 million loan to help it run the magazine for the next few years. And who said the credit markets were tight? The loan comes with a 3% interest rate and is due in 2014 — not exactly stringent terms.

The $1 sale price for TV Guide brings to mind the sale of another once-venerable journo brand: United Press Intl., which was unloaded for a buck by Scripps to two private investors in 1982.

The generous deal with OpenGate underscores Macrovision’s stated goal of buying Gemstar-TV Guide Intl. strictly for the technology that fuels its electronic listings guide and the TV Guide brand name. The magazine is projected to lose about $20 million this year, after incurring heavier losses in the recent past.

Once the most widely distribbed mag in the country, TV Guide now has a subscription base of about 3.2 million.

Macrovision is also in the process of unloading the TV Guide Channel cabler, which has failed to drum up any interest among major media players (Daily Variety, Sept. 29).

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