Macrovision: No Immediate Plans for TV Guide Cable Nets, Magazine

Macrovision, which agreed to acquire Gemstar-TV Guide International in a deal worth $2.8 billion, said it wouldn’t take any immediate action to sell or spin off TV Guide Network, the TVG horse-racing channel and TV Guide Magazine, but its CEO said the company would potentially execute “strategic alternatives” for certain business units.

On a conference call with financial analysts, Macrovision president and CEO Fred Amoroso was asked whether the company intended to keep or divest TV Guide Magazine and the cable networks.

Amoroso responded that “the direction is to spend time over the next few months with [Gemstar-TV Guide CEO] Rich [Battista] and his team in learning a lot more about the entire entertainment side of the business before making any decisions about how their strategic value would fit into our overall approach.”

Earlier on the call, Amoroso said, “Over the next year we’re going to be highly focused on realizing the operating synergies you would expect in a merger of this size, as well as refining our focus by potentially executing on strategic alternatives with respect to certain business areas.”

TV Guide Network, which combines original programming with the familiar scrolling program listings on the bottom third of the screen, is distributed to more than 84 million homes. TVG Network has carriage in 27 million homes in the U.S. In addition, the company offers TV Guide SPOT, a video-on-demand service available to more than 29 million homes through deals with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications, Cox Communications and others.

Amoroso, in explaining the rationale for the deal, dwelled primarily on perceived opportunities of combining Macrovision’s copy-protection technologies with Gemstar-TV Guide’s TV listings and on-screen guide business.

For example, Macrovision anticipates being able to sell TV listings data to complement the music and movie data provided by All Media Guide, which Macrovision acquired last month. “To date this is an unfilled opportunity, as Gemstar-TV Guide has not focused on standalone data licensing,” Amorosa said.

The combined company, Amoroso noted, would have a patent portfolio comprising approximately 450 U.S. and 1,900 international patents.

A “frequently asked questions” section included as part of Macrovision’s presentation with analysts included the question, “Does Macrovision intend to keep the Gemstar-TV Guide brand name intact?”

The answer provided was: “The TV Guide brand is among the best known brands in the U.S., a strong publishing brand and a valuable franchise. Macrovision will be evaluating the future role of the brand, however, there are no plans at this time to eliminate or change the brand as associated with key entertainment properties.”