That was quick, and brings back things full circle, sort of: Lionsgate Entertainment has sold off 49 percent stake in TV Guide network and the online properties to One Equity, for about $123 million. This comes only three months after it outbid One Equity, the PE arm of J.P. Morgan Chase, for the race to buy the TV company from Macrovision (NSDQ: MVSN). With this new deal, OEP retains the option of buying another 1 percent of TV Guide Network and TVGuide.com, under “certain circumstances”, the companies said.
One Equity and media investor Allen Shapiro initially agreed to buy TV Guide network from Macrovision late last year, for as much as $300 million, but then Lionsgate came in and Macrovision decided to sell it to the movie studio instead, for about $250 million. Economic necessity for Lionsgate (what with Carl Icahn continuing to breathe down its neck) probably smoothed over any bad feelings after the initial OEP deal fell through. Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer told Variety: “We always thought we would be bringing in a strategic partner…And OEP and Allen had always been interested in having a partner. So given their interest in the channel and the alignment of our interests, they are the ideal partners.” That plus the money will help Lionsgate in its fight against Icahn, who now has a 14.5 percent stake in the company, and has been critical of LGE’s decision to buy TV Guide.
Shapiro will become the new chairman of the JV and will work with Feltheimer as part of the management. They do have a big challenge in front of them, making the scrolling TV listings channel relevant in face of all the other more interactive TV IPG and customizable online options. And it admits as much: it has already dropped the listings scroll from satellite providers Dish Network and DirecTV (NYSE: DTV), and intends phase it out in their cable partners in the next two to four years. The channel does have a broad distribution working in its favor: is the 19th most-distributed network and available in 83 million homes, according to WSJ .Also, the online TVGuide.com site and other sites in the network do have a decent reach online: the company says the sites have about 19 million monthly unique visitors. More details in the release here.