Lionsgate is looking to sell TVGuide.com, but likely won't sell the TV Guide Network, TheWrap has learned.
Sale of the profitable site, worth an estimated $50 million - $100 million, could create brand confusion aplenty: the site and TV Guide Network are co-owned by Lionsgate and JP Morgan Chase’s One Equity Partners, but TV Guide Magazine is owned by OpenGate Capital.
The sale of the website could lead to three different owners of entertainment outlets bearing the TV Guide name, one of the most recognizable brands in the country. (Full disclosure: I worked at TVGuide.com from August 2008 to November 2010, and was its managing editor beginning in July 2009.)
The website runs magazine content under an agreement with the magazine, and occasionally promotes network content with ads and stories about its shows. It has grown dramatically in recent years under the leadership of general manager Christy Tanner, reaching up to 24 million unique visitors a month.
Lionsgate acquired both the site and the network in February 2009 from Macrovision, now known as Rovi, for roughly $250 million. One Equity Partners, which had previously hoped to purchase the network and site, agreed three months later to pay about $123 million in cash for a 49 percent stake, and retained the option of buying another 1 percent. Media investor Allen Shapiro became chairman of the joint venture, working with Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer to lead the network.
Lionsgate and One Equity would split the profits from the sale of the site.
TheWrap has learned that the studio is not interested in parting with the network, which is revamping itself by eliminating its scrolled programming information and running syndicated shows including "Curb Your Enthusiam," "Ugly Betty," and "Weeds." It also recently debuted the original series "Nail Files."
Though they have publicly expressed no interest in selling the network, Lionsgate and One Equity are interviewing investment bankers to assess its value. That process could lead to one partner buying out the other, with Lionsgate seen as more likely to buy out One Equity than the other way around.
The sales talk comes as Lionsgate looks to cut ties with non-core businesses. In June it sold Canadian distributor Maple Pictures to Alliance Films for about $40 million.
News that the site is up for sale was first reported by Deadline.com.