CBS, Lionsgate Set TV Guide Network Pact, Plan Rebranding Effort

Eye confirms it has inked deal to buy half of cabler from JP Morgan's One Equity division

CBS has confirmed its purchase of a 50%  stake in the TV Guide Network cabler and TVGuide.com,  a deal that sees the Eye partnering with Lionsgate in the assets.

TV Guide will “continue to be entertainment focused, with a specific rebranding and programming strategy to be announced at a later date,” CBS and Lionsgate said in an announcement issued Tuesday.

JP Morgan’s One Equity Division sold the interest to CBS, which had been doing due diligence on the company for months, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the discussions. Insiders pegged the price tag at just under $100 million.

TV Guide counts a subscriber base of 80 million homes, but has remained a weak player in the ranks of general entertainment cable channels. With its purchase of the network, CBS will gain a significant cable asset to help exploit its vast vault of programming. The Eye sees value in owning the cabler with a partner that is also active in TV and film production.

“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 president and CEO Leslie Moonves in a statement. “We’re excited to bring CBS’ 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.”

Lionsgate toppers Jon Feltheimer and Michael Burns called CBS a “blue-chip strategic partner” and said the two companies’ “complementary assets will elevate TVGN to the next level of performance and enable it to fulfill its promise as a significant branded entertainment channel.”

Lionsgate bought TV Guide for $255 million in 2009 and sold One Equity a 49% stake later that year.

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