Tribune Sells Gracenote to Nielsen for $560 Million

There goes much of media company’s Digital and Data business ops

Tribune Media has agreed to sell its Digital and Data business operations — Gracenote’s video, music and sports — to Nielsen for $560 million in cash.

The Peter Liguori-led company will retain its ownership of business-to-consumer websites, and This deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017.

“We are extremely proud to have grown our Digital and Data business into a vibrant global enterprise, with talented and creative people who deliver outstanding service to blue-chip clients around the world,” said Liguori, Tribune Media’s president and chief executive officer. “From a strategic standpoint, however, we are pleased to be streamlining our company so that we can focus even more intently on seizing future opportunities for our local television and entertainment business.”

“Further, our intention to pay a special dividend, continue our share repurchase program and repay debt reflects our long-standing commitment to returning capital to shareholders while maintaining a balanced approach to our overall capital structure,” he continued.

The global Gracenote provides descriptions of virtually every song, TV show and movie ever produced, along with sports scores and statistics for all of the world’s top leagues and teams. Clients include cable providers, who leverage Gracenote data to display TV schedules and listings in their program guides and on mobile devices, music services such as Apple and Spotify, which use Gracenote data for their recommendation engines, and car manufacturers for their infotainment systems.

“Over the last three years, under Tribune’s ownership, we’ve transformed Gracenote into a global data powerhouse and Nielsen’s acquisition ushers in an exciting new chapter for our people, products and customers,” added John Batter, Gracenote’s CEO. “Nielsen is a natural home for Gracenote. Both companies have entertainment data at their core and have spent years delivering services to the world’s top media brands. Bringing together our data for driving discovery and tune-in with Nielsen’s deep insights about what people are watching, listening to and buying makes a formidable combination.”

Moelis & Company and Guggenheim Securities acted as financial advisors and Debevoise & Plimpton acted as legal advisor to Tribune Media Company.

Tribune Media acquired Gracenote in 2014.