CBS Corp has made a bid for and acquired TV Guide Digital, which includes TV Guide mobile and TVGuide.com. Previously Lionsgate had a 50 percent share in the mobile wing of the TV Guide brand, and Lionsgate sold its remaining stake to CBS to complete the deal. Lionsgate will continue to operate the basic cable channel TV Guide Network. But we have to wonder, what is CBS' master plan?
Clearly its focused on dominating the online space. The network has been quietly acquiring mobile and Web properties for a while now and some of it is paying off. CBS Interactive now includes brands such as GameSpot, Last.fm, TV.com, Chow and several others. CBS online stated its best quarter ever was at the start of this year, with the interactive division’s revenue up 22 percent and video content revenue accelerating to 76 percent.
TV Guide the magazine was a staple in homes around America for decades, but it is now read by a fraction of that amount. However TVGuide.com has proven much more successful, with more than 16 million monthly visitors (the actual magazine gets about 2 million readers monthly) and the mobile version pulls in another two million fans. Part of the success is no doubt centered around the TV Guide brand. The name alone conveys authority to a new generation of audiences, however, the retro callbacks to the magazine though the various decades still have a lot of sentimental value. The TV Guide app for iOS and Android is an important second screen option for show information, you can keep track of your favorite shows and get information on where and when your shows will be airing. This all ties in to mobile TV continuing to ramp up, and having the authority of TV guides right there already on your smartphone or tablet is very handy.
CBS could potentially promote its own shows more through the TV Guide properties, since it has become a focal point of a new generation looking for help with what to watch. CBS has already stated it will focus more on searching and recommendation for ongoing development, and having its own shows in the mix can only benefit the network. CBS has worked a strategy by focusing on franchises like CSI, to reviving the careers of favorite actors such as Mark Harmon and Tom Selleck, to now serving second screen and interactive elements for its programming. While other networks are struggling for ratings and also trying to get a grasp on on-line and mobile, CBS Interactive could have the stealth strategy that brings it out in front of the pack.