TV Guide is a bi-weekly American magazine that provides television program listings information as well as television-related news, celebrity interviews and gossip, film reviews, crossword puzzles and in some issues, horoscopes. The print magazine is owned by NTVB Media, while its digital properties are controlled by the CBS Interactive division of CBS Corporation; the TV Guide name and associated editorial content from the publication are licensed by CBS Interactive for use on the website and mobile app through an agreement with the magazine's parent subsidiary TVGM Holdings, Inc.
The prototype of what would become TV Guide magazine, was developed by Lee Wagner (1910–1993), who was the circulation director of McFadden Publications in New York City in the 1930s – and later, by the time of the predecessor publication's creation, for Cowles Media Company – distributing magazines focusing on movie celebrities.
In 1948, he printed New York City area listings magazine The TeleVision Guide. Silent film star Gloria Swanson, who then starred of the short-lived variety series The Gloria Swanson Hour, appeared on the cover of the first issue. Wagner later began publishing regional editions of The TeleVision Guide for New England and the Baltimore–Washington area. Five years later, he sold the editions to Walter Annenberg, who folded it into his publishing and broadcasting company Triangle Publications, but remained as a consultant for the magazine until 1963.
The national TV Guide's first issue was released on April 3, 1953. The inaugural cover featured a photograph of Lucille Ball's newborn son Desi Arnaz, Jr., with a downscaled photo of Ball placed in the top corner under the issue's headline: "Lucy's $50,000,000 baby". The magazine was published in digest size, which remained its printed format for 52 years. From its first issue until July 16, 1954, listings within each edition of TV Guide began on Friday and ended on Thursday; beginning with the July 17, 1954 issue, the duration of the listings in each week's issue changed to start on Saturday and end on Friday, which remained the listings format for all local editions until April 2004.
The formation of TV Guide as a national publication resulted from Triangle Publications' purchase of numerous regional television listing publications such as TV Forecast, TV Digest, Television Guide and TV Guide. The launch as a national magazine with local listings in April 1953 became an almost instant success, with TV Guide becoming the most read and circulated magazine in the United States by the 1960s. The initial cost of each issue was 15¢ per copy (equivalent to $1.33 today; the price of each issue has gradually risen over the years, selling for $4.99 per copy as of 2016). In addition to subscriptions, TV Guide was sold at the checkout counters of grocery stores nationwide. Until the 1980s, the feature pieces included in each issue were promoted in a television commercial. Under Triangle, TV Guide continued to grow not only in circulation, but in recognition as the authority on television programming with articles – the majority of which typically appear in the color section – from both staff and contributing writers.
Over the decades, the shape of the TV Guide logo has changed to reflect the modernization of the television screen, eventually adopting its current widescreen appearance in September 2003 (different versions of the logo – the only cosmetic difference being the utilization of different typefaces – are currently used respectively for the magazine and the separately owned, CBS-managed digital properties). At first, the logo had various colored backgrounds (usually black, white, blue or green) until the familiar red background became the standard in the 1960s with occasional changes used for special editions.
The magazine was first based in a small office in downtown Philadelphia, before moving to more spacious national headquarters in Radnor, Pennsylvania in the late 1950s. The new facility, complete with a large lighted TV Guide logo at the building's entrance, based its management, editors, production personnel and subscription processors as well as a vast computer system holding data on every television show and movie available for listing in the popular weekly publication. Printing of the national color section of TV Guide – which incorporates television-related stories, and select feature columns such as program reviews – took place at Triangle's Gravure Division plant – which was known for performing some of the highest quality printing in the industry, with almost always perfect registration – located adjacent to the company's landmark Philadelphia Inquirer Building on North Broad Street in Philadelphia. The color section was then sent to regional printers to be wrapped around the local listing sections.
In addition to TV Guide and its flagship newspaper The Philadelphia Inquirer, Triangle Publications also owned the Philadelphia Daily News; ten radio and six television stations (WFIL AM-FM-TV in Philadelphia, WNHC AM-FM-TV in New Haven, Connecticut, KFRE AM-FM-TV in Fresno, California, WNBF AM-FM-TV in Binghamton, New York, WFBG AM-FM-TV in Altoona, Pennsylvania and WLYH-TV in Lancaster–Lebanon, Pennsylvania); The Daily Racing Form; The Morning Telegraph; Seventeen; and various cable television interests. It was under Triangle's ownership of WFIL-TV that Dick Clark and American Bandstand came to popularity. Triangle Publications sold its Philadelphia newspapers to Knight Newspapers in 1969, its radio and television stations during the early 1970s to Capital Cities Communications (the television stations that are now known as KFSN-TV and WPVI-TV were subsequently acquired by ABC through its 1986 merger with Capital Cities) and various other interests, retaining only TV Guide, Seventeen and The Daily Racing Form.
For the magazine's first 52 years of publication, listings information was displayed in a "log" format, a mainly text-based list of programs organized by both start time and channel, which was the sole method – eventually, primary once prime time grids were incorporated, and later secondary for the final two years of its inclusion of local listings – of displaying program information in TV Guide until the switch to national listings in 2005; this allowed for the display of full titles for each program as well as the inclusion of synopses for movies and most programs. Most listing entries in the log included program genres (and for national news programs, anchors) after the program's title, while its running time (which was mentioned only if a program lasted a minimum of one hour – later 35 minutes – in length) was listed in the synopses.
Originally, the majority of programs listed in the log each issue featured brief synopses, except for local and national newscasts, and programs airing on certain stations in various timeslots. As other broadcast television stations and cable channels were added, due to set space requirements for the local listings section, detailed synopses were gradually restricted to series and specials – usually those airing in evening timeslots – as well as movies airing on broadcast television, while shorter synopses were used for programs seen on broadcast stations outside of the edition's home market and select cable channels; and only the title along with supplementary information (such as genre and/or program length) for most other broadcast and cable programs. In addition, black-and-white ads for programs scheduled to air on broadcast stations – and later, cable channels – during prime time (with local airtimes, and for broadcast stations, information for network-affiliated stations featured in the edition which were scheduled to air the advertised show) were included within the listings.
A regular feature of the listings section was "Close-Up," which provided expanded reviews of select programs airing each day (various editions of "Close-Up" were eventually used for different types of programs, from premieres of new series to shows airing on cable). Over time, other regular and recurring features (most of them television-related) were included alongside the listings including "Insider" (a television news and interview section in the lead pages of the color section); "Cheers and Jeers" (a critique page about various aspects of television programming); "Hits and Misses" (featuring brief reviews of select programs in the coming week, rated on a score from 0 to 10); "Guidelines" (a half-page daily section featuring highlights of five or six programs of interest); horoscopes; recaps of the previous week's storylines on network daytime soap operas; a page reviewing new home video (and later, DVD) releases; dedicated pages that respectively listed select sporting events, children's programs and "four-star" movies being broadcast during that week; and crossword puzzles. Although its issues usually focus on different television-related stories week to week, TV Guide also incorporates recurring issues that appear a few times each year, most notably the "Fall Preview" (an issue featured since the magazine's inaugural year in 1953, which features reviews of new series premiering during the fall television season), "Returning Favorites" (first published in 1996, featuring previews of series renewed from the previous television season returning for the upcoming fall schedule), "Winter Preview" (first published in 1994 and later known as the "(year) TV Preview" from 2006 to 2009, featuring previews of midseason series) and the "The Best Children's Shows on TV" (first published in 1989 and later renamed the "Parents' Guide to Children's Television" in 1990, the "Parent's Guide to Children's Entertainment" in 1993 and finally as the "Parent's Guide to Kids' TV" in 1994, featuring stories and reviews on family-oriented programs).
The advent of cable television would become hard on TV Guide. Cable channels began to be listed in the magazine in 1980 or 1981, depending on the edition; regional and national superstations available on cable systems in the designated market of many editions were the only cable channels listed initially, with cable-originated channels (such as HBO and CNN) – which the magazine originally promoted mainly in full-page advertisements – being added later. Channels that were listed also differed, depending on the edition. As the years went on, more cable channels were added into the listings of each edition. To help offset this, the May 11–17, 1985 issue introduced a smaller Helvetica font for the log, along with some other cosmetic changes; in particular, a show's length began to be listed after the show's title instead of at the end of its synopsis.
Upon those channels' incorporation in the listings, the outlined bullets that were originally used only for out-of-market television stations were also assigned to cable channels, containing three-letter abbreviations in a condensed typeface for identification; for example, "ESN" represented ESPN, "DSC" represented The Discovery Channel and "NIK" represented Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite (E! and FX later became exceptions, as those channels were identified by two-character abbreviations); in certain cases, the abbreviation used (such as "AMC" for American Movie Classics, "TNT" for "Turner Network Television" and "MTV" for "Music Television") was that which the channel had already branded by (two pay cable networks, Cinemax and Showtime eventually rebranded in 1997 so that their respective TV Guide abbreviations – "MAX" and "SHO" – became the focal point of their logos).
Out-of-market superstations were first identified with a combination of their channel number and a letter representing their originating market city following the incorporation of cable listings (WKBD-TV in Detroit, which effectively served as the Fox affiliate for most of Michigan until December 1994 via cable, was listed as "50D", for instance; these identifiers were also used in some regional editions to disambiguate broadcast stations with identical channel numbers in genre-based listings pages (such as the sports guide) and crossreferences in the pages preceding the local listings, with the numeric identifier used for either a local or out-of-market station, and the alphanumeric identifier for an out-of-market station); the three major national superstations at the time, TBS, WGN and WOR (which were respectively identified as "17A", "9C" and "9N"), were eventually given conventional three-letter abbreviations in line with other cable channels.
News Corporation era
On August 7, 1988, Triangle Publications was sold to the News America Corporation arm of News Corporation for $3 billion, one of the largest media acquisitions of the time and the most expensive publication transaction at the time.
To save channel space, TV Guide eventually incorporated a grid (a rowed display of listings for programs scheduled to air during the evening hours each night, primarily organized by channel, from 5:00 to 11:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. depending on the start of prime time within a given time zone) into the listings by the late 1980s; some cable channels – mainly premium channels – had an asterisk displayed by them in that edition's channel lineup page, which meant that it was only listed in the evening grid (and later the "Pay-TV (later "Premium Channels") Movie Guide," a feature placed within the final pages of the listing section that incorporated synopses for films being aired as well as a list of films scheduled to premiere that week on the premium channels included in both the log and grid listings, excluding those featured exclusively in the grids). Channels like Cinemax and The Disney Channel initially started only in the grids, but later expanded to the log listings as well; by the mid-1990s, most editions of TV Guide incorporated nearly all cable channels each issue provided program listings for in both the grids and the log listings, although some editions continued to list at least one channel, such as The Movie Channel (the only pay service that was excluded from the log listings in many editions by that point – though its inclusion in the log, as with select other cable channels, varied by market – until the September 1998 additions of Starz, Encore, and HBO multiplex channels HBO Plus (now HBO2) and HBO3 (now HBO Signature) to the listings), in the grids only.
Another change to the listings took place in 1996; the show's title was no longer displayed in all-uppercase, but a mixed case font (which changed to Franklin Gothic). In addition, the generic title "MOVIE" that appeared before a film's synopsis was replaced with the movie's actual title, which had previously been displayed within the film description and began to appear italicized with the move. Beginning with the January 4, 1997 issue, the log listings began incorporating content ratings for programs assigned through the newly implemented TV Parental Guidelines system (the system's content ratings were subsequently added upon their introduction in October 1998).
News Corporation sold TV Guide to the United Video Satellite Group, parent company of Prevue Networks, on June 11, 1998 for $800 million and 60 million shares of stock worth an additional $1.2 billion (this followed an earlier merger attempt between the two companies in 1996 that eventually fell apart). Following the sale, reports suggested that TV Guide would remove program listings from the magazine, shifting them entirely to its new sister cable network Prevue Channel, which would be rebranded as a result of United Video's purchase of TV Guide magazine; News Corporation executives later stated that listings information would remain part of the magazine. That year, United Video acquired TVSM Inc. (publishers of competing listings guides Total TV and The Cable Guide) in a $75 million all-cash acquisition; as a result, TV Guide merged with Total TV, and began printing a version of the magazine in the latter magazine's full-size format (while retaining the original digest size version) effective with the July 11, 1998 issue.
Because most cable systems published their own listing magazine reflecting their channel lineup, and now had a separate guide channel or an electronic program guide that can be activated by remote and provide the same information in a more detailed manner – with additional competition coming in the late 1990s from websites that also specialize in providing detailed television program information (such as TVGuide.com, then jointly operated with TV Guide Magazine, and Zap2It), a printed listing of programming in a separate magazine became less valuable. The sheer amount and diversity of cable television programming made it hard for TV Guide to provide listings of the extensive array of programming that came directly over the cable system. TV Guide also could not match the ability of the cable box to store personalized listings. Nevertheless, beginning with the September 12, 1998 issue, the magazine added several new channels to many of its editions, including those that had previously been mentioned only in a foreword on the channel lineup page as well as those that were available mainly on digital cable and satellite; although most of these newly added channels were placed within the prime time grids, only a few (such as Animal Planet and MSNBC) were also incorporated into the log listings. Some of the channels that were added to the grids beginning with the expansion were identified by four character abbreviations (such as "BBCA" for BBC America and "HBOS" for HBO Signature).
Features in the magazine were also revamped with the additions of "The Robins Report" (a review column by writer J. Max Robins), "Family Page" (featuring reviews of family-oriented programs) and picks of select classic films airing that week, as well as the removal of the "Guidelines" feature in the listings section in favor of the new highlight page "Don't Miss" (listing choice programs selected by the magazine's staff for the coming week) in the national color section. Listings for movies within the log also began identifying made-for-TV and direct-to-video films, as well as quality ratings on a scale of one to four stars (signifying movies that have received "poor" to "excellent" reviews). The evening grids were also reduced to the designated prime time hours, 8:00 to 11:00 p.m. (or 7:00 to 10:00 p.m.) Monday through Saturdays and 7:00 to 11:00 p.m. (or 6:00 to 10:00 p.m.) on Sundays. In 1999, the magazine began hosting the TV Guide Awards, an awards show (which was telecast on Fox) honoring television programs and actors, with the winners being chosen by TV Guide subscribers through a nominee ballot inserted in the magazine; the telecast was discontinued after the 2001 event.
On October 5, 1999, Gemstar International Group Ltd., the maker of the VCR Plus+ device and schedule system (whose channel and program codes for VCRs using the system for timed recordings were incorporated into the magazine's listings in 1988), and which incidentally was partially owned by News Corporation, purchased United Video Satellite Group; the two companies had previously been involved in a legal battle over the intellectual property rights for their respective interactive program guide systems, VCR Plus+ and TV Guide On Screen, that began in 1994. That month, TV Guide debuted a 16-page insert into editions in 22 markets with large Hispanic populations titled TV Guide en Español, which provided programming information from national Spanish language networks (such as Univision and Telemundo) as well as special sections with reviews of the week's notable programs. The magazine discontinued the insert in March 2000 due to difficulties resulting from confusion by advertisers over its marketing as "the first weekly Spanish-language magazine," despite its structure as an insert within the main TV Guide publication.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of TV Guide as a national magazine, in 2002, the magazine published six special issues:
- "TV We'll Always Remember (April 6–12): Our Favorite Stars Share Fifty Years of Memories, Moments and Magic"
- "50 Greatest Shows of All Time (May 4–10): The Ultimate List of the 50 Best TV Series. (Just Try to Guess What's No. 1!)"
- Note: This was the only one to be presented on television itself (in the form of a two-hour special) and referenced in the book TV Guide: Fifty Years of Television, considering the magazine's purpose to present weekly listings of regularly scheduled series.
- "Our 50 Greatest Covers of All Time (June 15–21): Fabulous Photos of Your Favorite Shows and Stars Plus: Amazing Behind-the-Scenes Stories"
- "50 Worst Shows of All Time (July 20–26): Not Just Bad! Really Awful – And We Love Them That Way!"
- "50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time (August 3–9): Funny! Clever! Drawn to perfection! They're the tops in toons!"
- "50 Sexiest Stars of All Time (September 28–October 4): Charisma, Curves, Confidence, Charm! Could We Be Having Any More Fun?"
By 2003, the number of cable channels that were only listed in the grids expanded, with the addition of channels such as BBC America, Soapnet and the National Geographic Channel (some editions also featured a limited amount of broadcast stations – either in-market, out-of-market or both – exclusively in the grids); conversely, sister cable network TV Guide Channel (whose listings were added to the magazine after the Gemstar purchase) was relegated from the log listings to the grids in most editions. From its inception until 2003, TV Guide had offered listings for the entire week, 24 hours a day. Numerous changes to the local listings took place beginning with the June 21, 2003 issue – in just a few select markets, when the 5:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday listings were condensed down to four grids: these ran from 5:00 to 8:00 a.m., 8:00 to 11:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. If programming differed from one weekday to the next, the generic descriptor "Various Programs" was listed. The weekday grid maintained day-to-day listings for certain cable channels (primarily movie channels as well as a limited number of basic cable channels such as Lifetime, The History Channel and USA Network), which were organized separately from the other channels. These changes became permanent in all TV Guide editions beginning with the September 13, 2003 "Fall Preview" issue.
Other changes were made to the magazine beginning with the June 21 issue in select markets and the 2003 "Fall Preview" issue elsewhere. A half-page daily prime time highlights section featuring the evening's notable shows, movies and sports events – similar to the former "Guidelines" feature – was re-added to the listings section; a full-page "Weekday Highlights" page was also added featuring guest and topical information for the week's daytime talk and morning shows as well as picks for movies airing during the day on broadcast and cable channels. In addition, while log listings continued in use for prime time listings, program synopses were added to the grids and log, as well as a "NEW" indicator for first-run episodes, replacing the "(Repeat)" indicator in the log's synopses. The "Premium Channels Movie Guide" was also restructured as "The Big Movie Guide," with film listings being expanded to include those airing on all broadcast networks and cable channels featured in each edition (as well as some that were not listed in a particular local edition), as well as movies that were available on pay-per-view (page references to the films included in this section were also incorporated into the prime time grids and log listings). Beginning in January 2004, the midnight to 5:00 a.m. listings (as well as the Saturday and Sunday 5:00 to 8:00 a.m. listings) ceased to include any broadcast stations outside of the edition's home market, leaving only program information for stations within the home market and for cable channels.
The magazine's format was changed beginning with the April 11, 2004 issue to start the week's listings in each issue on Sunday (the day in which television listings magazines supplemented in newspapers traditionally began each week's listings information), rather than Saturday. In July 2004, the overnight listings were removed entirely, replaced by a grid that ran from 11:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. that included only the broadcast stations in each edition's home market and a handful of cable channels. It also listed a small selection of late-night movies airing on certain channels. The time period of the listings in the daytime grids also shifted from starting at 5:00 a.m. and ending at 5:00 p.m. to running from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. By this point, the log listings were restricted to programs airing from 7:00 to 11:00 p.m. In early 2005, more channels were added to the prime time and late-night grids.
On May 18, 2005, TV Guide launched TV Guide Talk, a weekly podcast that was available to download for free. The podcast was headlined by TV Guide reporter/personality Michael Ausiello, and was co-hosted by his colleagues at the magazine, Angel Cohn, Daniel Manu and Maitland McDonagh. The podcast was discontinued in 2008, following Ausiello's move to Entertainment Weekly.
Format overhaul and conversion to national listings
On July 26, 2005, Gemstar-TV Guide announced that TV Guide would abandon its longtime digest size format and begin printing as a larger full-size national magazine that would offer more stories and fewer program listings. All 140 local editions were eliminated, being replaced by two editions covering the time zones within the contiguous United States: one for the Eastern and Central time zones, and one for the Pacific and Mountain time zones (which had existed separately from the local editions prior to the change, although their distribution was primarily limited to hotels). The change in format was attributed to the increase in the internet, cable television channels (like TV Guide Network), electronic program guides and digital video recorders as the sources of choice for viewers' program listings. The new version of TV Guide went on sale on October 17, 2005, and featured Extreme Makeover: Home Edition host Ty Pennington on the cover. The listings format, now consisting entirely of grids, also changed to start the listings in each week's issue on Monday rather than Sunday. As a result of the elimination of the local editions, broadcast stations were replaced by broadcast network schedules with the description "Local Programming" being used to denote time periods in which syndicated, locally produced or paid programs would air instead of network shows.
In September 2006, TV Guide launched a redesigned website, with expanded original editorial and user-generated content not included in the print magazine. On December 22, 2006, TV Guide introduced the magazine's first ever two-week edition. The edition, which featured Rachael Ray on the cover, was issued for the period from December 25, 2006 to January 7, 2007. In early 2008, the Monday through Friday daytime and daily late night grids were eliminated from the listings section, and the television highlights section was compressed into a six-page review of the week, rather than the previous two pages for each night. By 2007, TV Guide's circulation had decreased to less than three million copies from a peak of almost 20 million in 1970.
With the $2.8 billion acquisition of Gemstar-TV Guide by Macrovision on May 2, 2008, that company, which purchased the former mostly to take advantage of their lucrative and profitable VCR Plus and electronic program guide patents, stated it wanted to sell both the magazine and TV Guide Network, along with the company's horse racing channel TVG Network to other parties.
OpenGate Capital era
On October 13, 2008, Macrovision sold the money-losing magazine (which was reportedly posting revenue losses of $20 million per year by that point) to Beverly Hills-based equity fund OpenGate Capital for $1, and a $9.5 million loan at 3% interest. As part of the sale, however, Macrovision retained ownership of the companion website – which was then sold to equity firm One Equity Partners for $300 million – which severed all editorial connections between the magazine and website, including the end of critic Matt Roush's presence on TVGuide.com. The editorial content of the magazine was launched on a new site, TVGuideMagazine.com, which did not feature TV Guide's listings in any form. TVGuideMagazine.com was later shut down on June 1, 2010; TV Guide magazine and TVGuide.com then entered into a deal to restore content from the magazine to the latter website, which Lionsgate Entertainment had bought along with the TV Guide Network in January 2009.
In January 2009, the magazine cut several networks from its grid listings – including MTV and DIY Network – citing "space concerns"; however, two cuts, those of The CW and TV Guide Network, were seen as suspicious and arbitrary, as the magazine carries several channels which have the same schedule night after night or have low viewership and could have easily been cut, while several Fox-owned networks continued to be listed due to agreements with the former News Corporation ownership. It is likely that TV Guide Network's removal from TV Guide's listings was related to the "divorce" of the website and network from the magazine. In early February 2009, The CW and MTV were brought back to the listings after the magazine received numerous emails protesting the move; as a consequence, listings for several low-rated networks were removed. The other channels previously incorporated into the listings before their removal were slowly re-added, until TV Guide Network's schedule returned to the listings pages in June 2010 with its logo prominent within the grids as part of the deal with Lionsgate's TV Guide division. Under OpenGate ownership, TV Guide slowly returned to profitability mainly through cost reductions instituted by its venture capital parent, making significant staffing reductions and switching to bi-weekly editions full-time, reducing the number of issues it published to 29 per year.
In March 2013, CBS Corporation acquired One Equity Partners' stake of their TV Guide assets. The CBS acquisition was finalized later that month for $100 million. On May 31, 2013, CBS bought Lionsgate's share of TV Guide Digital, which includes the website and mobile apps. On January 31, 2014, OpenGate Capital and CBS Interactive announced a deal to cross-promote TV Guide Magazine with TVGuide.com and CBS Interactive's other internet properties (including TV.com, Metacritic and CNET).
Shift towards features
On June 26, 2014, OpenGate Capital announced that TV Guide would undergo a major redesign beginning with the August 11 issue; the magazine eliminated 14 pages of listings, with the listings pages that remained displaying programming information for only top-rated broadcast and cable networks. It also added "enhanced editorial features," including recommendation sections focusing on traditional television and online programming – such as additional content from senior critic Matt Roush (an expanded "Roush Review" column and an additional column featuring ten picks for each week's programs as selected by Roush) and several new sections ("Upfront," featuring trending television-related stories, infographics, question-and-answer coluumns and ratings charts; "The Guide," containing expanded highlights for each day's television programming, including sports, daytime programming and content available for streaming online; a monthly television-related technology column; "The TV Guide Interview," an occasional feature featuring celebrity interviews focusing on their career; and "On Demand," a review column of movies premiering through streaming and on-demand services). In addition, the magazine's size was reduced from 7³/₈×10¼ inches to 7×10 inches in a cost-saving measure; it also began to be distributed in airport newsstands.
Sale to NTVB Media
On October 8, 2015, OpenGate Capital sold the magazine and co-owned website TVInsider.com to Troy, Michigan-based publishing company NTVB Media for an undisclosed amount, marking TV Guide's third ownership transaction in eight years (OpenGate managing partner Andrew Nikou stated that the purchase price was for "more than $1 and less than $3 billion," while estimates from other industry sources stated that the magazine sold for a price within the range of $12 million). TVGM Holdings chief executive officer David J. Fishman and chief financial officer Joe Clemente as well as the remainder of the magazine's 62-person staff will remain with the company; the magazine's corporate offices in New York City, Los Angeles and Newtown Square, Pennsylvania – the former two of which also continue to base the magazine's editorial staff – will also remain in operation.
The acquisition made NTVB Media the largest owner of consumer television publications in the United States, with a combined reach of more than 20 million readers. NTVB already owned TV Weekly and Channel Guide, both of which provide national editorial content and – through syndication agreements with 160+ newspapers throughout the country, in which they are distributed as supplementary publications incorporated within each paper's Sunday editions – listings customized for individual regions (the company began distributing its listings magazines in this manner in 2008, as newspapers began to cease publication of their proprietary television listings magazines due to cost-cutting measures spurred by declining circulation and revenue); it also publishes listings publications for pay television providers such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Dish Network. As such, it is undetermined whether NTVB will reach deals to distribute TV Guide to newspapers on a separate basis or extend the name to its existing television publications. Staff with TV Guide and NTVB's other titles will collaborate on feature content included in the respective magazines, while the company will fold advertising sales for the magazine with its existing television magazine titles.
From the magazine's inception until the October 2005 conversion to national listings based on time zone, TV Guide maintained a local-national hybrid format with local editions tailored to a specific region or individual market. Each regional edition generally served either a single city, a large market and certain smaller adjacent markets, or a single or multiple neighboring states or provinces. South Dakota, Delaware and the U.S. territories did not have their own editions during the local listings era (in the case of the two U.S. states, Rapid City and Sioux Falls, South Dakota were presumably both considered too small to have their own editions and were located too far away from one another to be included in one edition; Delaware is split between two markets – New Castle and Kent counties are part of the Philadelphia market, while Sussex County is part of the Salisbury, Maryland market). Some editions that once provided statewide listings were eventually split off into separate editions that only provided listings for a specific region; in addition, certain markets have been added or dropped from some editions.
By the mid-1990s, nearly 150 editions of the magazine were published; during that decade, TV Guide began to diversify its editions from those for individual cities and multiple media markets within a given state or multi-state region to include editions for certain cable providers in larger television markets – which were later branded as "Ultimate Cable" editions – as well as editions for satellite providers such as DirecTV and Dish Network (which were published in addition to the listings magazines that both providers produced themselves).
Each channel in the listings section was designated by a bullet – which, like the magazine's logo, also resembled a television screen. Bullets used for broadcast stations contained a channel number, and, in many editions, were displayed as a filled black screen for local stations and as a screen outline for most out-of-market stations (the outlined bullets were also used to identify black and white and by 1985, colorized programs). If a certain edition featured more than one station that transmitted on the same channel but served different markets, the primary station in the edition was displayed as a black bullet with a white number, while the other shown as a white bullet with a black number; some editions have also used a split (half for stations broadcasting on frequencies from channel 10 and up; three split with the channel number in the middle) or vertical channel bullet if it covered a large area. Out-of-market stations and (originally) superstations featured an alphanumeric identifier (with a letter next to the channel number) to disambiguate it from a local station, particularly in feature pages preceding the main listings (such as in the Northern Wisconsin edition, in which "6M" was used to disambiguate WLUC-TV in Marquette, Michigan from WITI in Milwaukee, which only used a "6" as its identifier).
If the same program or episode was scheduled to air in the same timeslot on more than one channel, two or more bullets identifying each channel would precede the program title listed in a particular time entry. The usage of multiple bullets to denote stations airing the same program was a more common occurrence in instances where multiple broadcast stations aired the same network program or their respective local news programs at the same time, although this also applied to broadcast and/or cable channels carrying the same episode of a syndicated program; separate time entries would only be used in this situation if the program had differing running times between channels (the grouping of bullets based on a station's affiliated network was later applied to the prime time grids beginning in September 2003).
There were some exceptions to this formatting. For example, the Hawaii edition had the primary Honolulu-based stations listed first, followed by their satellite sister stations, while the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania edition had that market's primary stations listed first, followed by the out-of-market outlets; the latter being unique with having the other stations listed below WPGH (channel 53) when it listed a show during non-network hours, and during a network-scheduled lineup – in this case, NBC – the primary station and channel being listed first – WPXI (11), followed by WJAC-TV/Johnstown (6), WTOV-TV/Steubenville (9), WBOY-TV/Fairmont, West Virginia (12) and WFMJ-TV/Youngstown, Ohio (21) – instead of by order of over-the-air channel number for all stations.
For much of the log listings era, the actual listings were immediately preceded by a channel lineup page, which listed the broadcast stations – and later, cable channels – whose program information was provided in each edition, organized numerically for broadcast stations and alphabetically by abbreviation for cable channels. As cable channels were gradually added to the magazine, a foreword was added below the listed channels in the lineup page that provided descriptions of channels that were not included in each issue; this foreword was removed beginning with the September 12, 1998 issue, as the magazine began adding many of the channels mentioned in that notation. In some editions, particularly the "Ultimate Cable" and satellite editions, the channel lineup was diagrammed in the form of a conversion chart that listed each channel's assigned placement on cable and satellite providers as well as their VCR Plus+ code number; the lineup pages in some of the local editions switched to these charts beginning in 2003, listing channel slots for major cable providers within the local edition's home market (or in more regionalized editions, the largest markets served by that edition). The channel lineup page was dropped in June 2004 in most local editions.
Related publications and services
TV Guide Channel/Network
In June 1998, the TV Guide brand and magazine were acquired by United Video Satellite Group, the parent company of the Prevue Channel – a channel first launched in 1981 as the Electronic Program Guide network, that was carried by cable and some satellite television providers and was originally formatted to feature a scrolling program guide, short segments featuring previews of upcoming programs, and promos and short-form film trailers for programs airing on various channels. Its new owners promptly rebranded Prevue as the TV Guide Channel on February 1, 1999. With the rebranding, some of the hourly segments featured on the channel at that point were renamed after features in the magazine, including TV Guide Close-Up, TV Guide Sportsview (which was formatted more similarly to the listings section's sports guide than the color column of that name) and TV Guide Insider. After Gemstar's acquisition of TV Guide, the channel began to shift towards airing full-length programs featuring celebrity gossip and movie-focused talk shows alongside the program listings; the channel was rebranded as the TV Guide Network in 2007.
Following the respective sales of TV Guide's magazine and cable channel by Macrovision to OpenGate Capital and Lionsgate, the magazine and TV Guide Network became operationally separate, although the two properties still collaborated on content for TVGuide.com. After CBS Corporation bought stakes in TV Guide's properties in March 2013, TV Guide Network was rebranded under the abbreviated name TVGN that April to de-emphasize its ties to TV Guide magazine, as part of a transition into a general entertainment format while the channel gradually decommissioned its scrolling listings grid. The network was relaunched as Pop on January 14, 2015, with its programming focus shifting towards shows about pop culture and its fandom.
TV Guide Crosswords
TV Guide Crosswords was a spin-off publication, first published in the late 1980s, based on the crossword puzzle feature in the penultimate page of each issue. The puzzles featured in TV Guide and the standalone magazine featured answers related to television programs, films, actors, entertainment history and other entertainment-related trivia. In addition to the regular magazine, TV Guide Crosswords also published special editions as well as books.
TV Insider is a website promoted internally as an online "guide to...TV" published by TV Guide's parent holding company TVGM Holdings, LLC, which launched in January 2015. The website features reviews and interviews from critics and columnists (such as Matt Roush) who write for the print magazine.
Interactive program guides
TV Guide Interactive
TV Guide Interactive is an interactive electronic program guide software system incorporated into digital set-top boxes provided by cable providers; the program listings grid rendered by the software is visually similar in its presentation to the grid used by the present-day Pop under its former TV Guide Network/TVGN identity on some providers.
TV Guide On Screen
A separate IPG system, TV Guide On Screen, was a brand name for Guide Plus+, a build of software featured in products such as televisions, DVD and digital video recorders, and other digital television devices providing on-screen program listings. First marketed in the mid-1990s, it was originally owned by Gemstar-TV Guide International before being acquired by the Rovi Corporation on December 7, 2007 in a $2.8 billion cash and stock deal. From November 2012 to April 2013, Rovi gradually discontinued broadcast transmission of the Guide Plus+ service.
Other usage of the TV Guide name
- A Canadian edition of TV Guide, which followed the same format as the U.S. magazine but published editorial content directed from Canada, was launched in 1977 (prior to this, beginning in 1953, the U.S. edition was published in Canada with appropriate localized television listings). It continued as a print publication until November 2006 (with only special editions being printed thereafter), after which it was replaced by the website tvguide.ca, which operated until December 2012, at which point it was incorporated into the entertainment and lifestyle website The Loop by Sympatico. The Canadian publication's owner Transcontinental Media discontinued TV Guide's online editorial content on July 2, 2014, ceasing the Canadian edition's existence after 61 years; its listings department, which distributes programming schedules to newspapers and The Loop owner Bell Canada's pay television services (Bell TV, Bell Aliant TV and Bell Fibe TV) remains operational.
- The term "TV guide" has partly become a genericized trademark to describe other television listings appearing on the internet and in newspapers. Read/Write Web published "Your Guide to Online TV Guides: 10 Services Compared." Techcrunch in 2006 offered "Overview: The End of Paper TV Guides."
- TV Guides is also the name of an interactive video and sound installation produced in 1995 with assistance from the Canada Council, and was presented at SIGGRAPH 1999.
National television listings magazines using the TV Guide name (verbatim or translated into the magazine's language of origin) are also published in other countries, but none of these are believed to be affiliated with the North American publication:
- In Australia, during the 1970s, a version of TV Guide was published under license by Southdown Press. In 1980, that version merged with competitor publication TV Week, which uses a very similar logo to that used by TV Guide.
- New Zealand has a digest-sized paper called TV Guide, which is not associated with the United States or Canadian publications. It has the largest circulation of any national magazine, and is published by Fairfax Media.
- In Mexico, a digest-sized publication called TV Guía is published by Editorial Televisa. It is unrelated to the U.S. publication.
- In Italy, a digest-size Guida TV has been published since September 1976 by Mondadori.
- List of TV Guide covers
- TV Guide Canada
- TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time
- TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time