CBS, America’s Most Watched Network, is getting back into the cable television game, having acquired the channel TVGN (formerly known as the TV Guide Network) and TVGuide.com, and will operate both with co-owner Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. The cable channel was acquired from JP Morgan Chase & Co., the previous owner, with estimates placing the value around $100 million.
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CBS Corp. was formed in 2006, when Viacom split into two companies in an effort to let the cable side, which kept the Viacom name, grow without the drag of the more mature and slower-growing CBS. Now the broadcast side is getting back into basic cable.
The owners plan to announce a new programming and branding strategy later, but the channel will continue its focus on entertainment, according to the statement. The channel is available in more than 80 million homes, the companies said, and will benefit from CBS’s “programming, distribution and marketing assets.”
The revamped channel sounds like it could pose more competition for networks including E!, part of NBC Universal. Its lineup currently includes shows such as “Celebrity Style Story,” which tracks how stars’ style has changed, but also goes heavy on syndicated repeats of shows including “Designing Women,” “Who’s the Boss?” and “Dharma & Greg.”
“This is a strategic way for CBS to use its content brands and gain access to a highly distributed basic cable network that has a lot of upside,” CBS Corp. President-CEO Leslie Moonves said in the statement.
The deal does not include TV Guide magazine, which is owned separately.
CBS has been very successful in developing a formula to remain the most watched broadcast network, with police procedurals and affable, middle-of-the-road comedies dominating the lineup, along with NFL football and 60 Minutes. If they can successfully pull that off on cable as well, they’ll be unstoppable.