CBS acquires TV Guide Digital’s

CBS Corp. has acquired TV Guide Digital, whose assets include and TV Guide mobile.

Under terms of the deal, CBS bought the remaining 50% stake in TV Guide’s digital assets from Los Angeles-based Lionsgate. Terms were not disclosed.

The acquisition separates the online and mobile versions of TV Guide from a joint-venture partnership the broadcaster entered into this spring with Lionsgate to operate TV Guide Network, a basic cable network that reaches 80 million homes but struggles with low ratings.


TV GuideDigital will be integrated into CBS Interactive’s portfolio of properties, which includes -- a social media site where users gather to discuss television -- as well as such brands as GameSpot,, Metacritic and Chow. It fits with the digital group’s strategy of rolling up distinctive assets that are attractive to advertisers. The interactive division reported its best results in the first quarter, with overall revenue up 22% and video revenue jumping 76%.

PHOTOS: Cable versus broadcast ratings

CBS Interactive President Jim Lanzone said the online and mobile versions of TV Guide are a far cry from the venerable magazine once found in supermarket checkout lines and on coffee tables across America. The weekly magazine, which once had a circulation of more than 20 million, is now read by an estimated 2 million. attracts some 16.5 million monthly visitors and the smartphone and tablet apps reach about 2.5 million users, according to CBS. Half of the people who visit, and 60% of those who use the mobile apps, are under the age of 35, Lanzone said.

“It’s a brand that has a nice-size audience, and a highly monetizable category that has a lot of relevance going forward,” said Lanzone. “That’s why it fits so well with our strategy.”

Media consultant Frank N. Magid Associates conducted research last fall for TV Guide Digital. It surveyed 1,000 television viewers and found the brand still enjoys great awareness among consumers, and is even seen as “cool” by 63% of 18- to 34-year-olds.

“I have never seen such a well-established brand score so highly with the younger adult demo,” said Mike Vorhaus, who runs Magid’s digital consulting group.

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TV Guide relaunched its smartphone and tablet apps last August in a bid to be more relevant to contemporary viewers, who frequently watch TV with a smartphone, tablet or laptop computer nearby.

The TV Guide app was among the first of the so-called second-screen applications to debut years ago. The latest version provides TV listings that aren’t limited to the live network schedule, but also includes where viewers can watch a show online and on-demand. A watchlist also helps viewers keep track of when a favorite TV show, actor or movie is showing.

Lanzone said he anticipates integrating CBS Interactive’s technologies into the TV Guide Digital’s offerings.

“We have a lot of technology to bring to the table from CBS Interactive that sets us up well for not just owning the TV Guide of today [but bringing] much more search and recommendations,” Lanzone said.


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