|First issue||April 3, 1953|
|Based in||Radnor, Pennsylvania|
TV Guide is a weekly American magazine that primarily provides television program listings information. The magazine and its digital properties is owned by the CBS Interactive division of CBS Corporation. In addition to television listings, the publication features television-related news, celebrity interviews, gossip and film reviews and crossword puzzles, with some issues having also featured horoscope listings.
Lee Wagner (1910–1993) was the circulation director of McFadden Publications in New York City in the 1930s – and later for Cowles Media Company – distributing movie celebrity magazines. In 1948, he printed New York City area listings magazine The TeleVision Guide. On the cover of the first issue was silent film star Gloria Swanson, star of the short-lived Gloria Swanson Hour. Wagner later added regional editions for New England and the Baltimore-Washington area. Five years later, he sold the editions to Walter Annenberg's Triangle Publications, but remained as a consultant until 1963.
The national TV Guide's first issue was released on April 3, 1953. The cover featured a photograph of Lucille Ball's newborn son Desi Arnaz, Jr. A small photo of Lucy was also placed in the top corner under the title of the issue which read: "Lucy's $50,000,000 baby". The magazine was digest size, which remained its printed format for more than five decades. From its first issue until July 15, 1954, listings within each edition of TV Guide began on Friday and ended on Thursday; beginning with the July 17, 1954 issue, listings changed to start the week's issue with Saturday listings and end with Friday listings.
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 publication with local listings in April 1953 became an almost instant success with the magazine becoming the most read and circulated magazine in the country by the 1960s. The initial cost was just 15¢ per copy. In addition to subscriptions, TV Guide was sold from grocery store counters nationwide. Until the 1980s, each issue's features 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 from both staff and contributing writers. Over the decades, the shape of the logo has changed to reflect the modernization of the television screen (eventually adopting its current widescreen shape in 2003). At first, the logo had various color backgrounds (usually black, white, blue or green) until the familiar red background became a standard in the 1960s with occasional changes to accommodate a special edition.
The magazine was first based in a small office in downtown Philadelphia until 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, was home to management, editors, production personnel, subscription processors as well as a vast computer system holding data on every 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 features such as program reviews) took place at Triangle's Gravure Division plant adjacent to Triangle'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. Triangle's Gravure Division was known for performing some of the highest quality printing in the industry with almost always perfect registration.
In addition to TV Guide Triangle Publications owned The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, 16 radio and 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 in Philadelphia 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 and various other interests retaining only TV Guide, Seventeen magazine and the Daily Racing Form.
For the magazine's first 52 years, listings information was displayed in a "log" format, a list of programs organized by start time and channel, which was the sole – and later, primary once primetime grids were incorporated – method 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. In addition, black-and-white ads for programs aired on broadcast stations and later, cable channels for programs scheduled to air during primetime (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. Over time, other features (most of them television-related) were included alongside the listings including horoscopes, recaps of the previous week's soap operas, listings for sporting events being broadcast during that week and highlights for specific programs scheduled to air each day.
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" (which features reviews of new series premiering during the fall television season) and the "Parent's Guide to Children's Entertainment" (later known as the "Parent's Guide to Kids' TV", featuring stories and reviews on family-oriented programs).
News Corporation era
Triangle Publications was sold to News America Corporation in 1988 for $3 billion, one of the largest media acquisitions of the time. The advent of cable television was hard on TV Guide. Cable channels began to be listed in the magazine in 1980 or 1981, depending on the edition. Channels were also different, depending on the edition. Each channel was designated by an oblong bullet (made to resemble a television screen, displayed as a screen outline for cable channels and most out-of-market broadcast stations, and as a filled black screen for local broadcast stations) that contained a three-letter abbreviation; for example, "ESN" represented ESPN, "DSC" represented The Discovery Channel and "NIK" represented Nickelodeon (two pay cable networks, Cinemax and Showtime eventually rebranded in 1997 so that their TV Guide abbreviations – "MAX" and "SHO", respectively – became the focal point of their logos). Out-of-market cable superstations at the time were displayed with their channel number and market city (WKBD-TV in Detroit, which effectively was the Fox affiliate for most of Michigan until 1995 via cable, was listed as "50D", for instance); the two major national superstations at the time, TBS and WGN, were eventually given conventional three-letter abbreviations in line with other cable channels.
To save channel space, TV Guide eventually incorporated a program listings grid (displaying programs scheduled to air during the evening hours each night primarily organized by channel, from 5–11 p.m. or 6 p.m.–12 a.m. depending on the start of primetime within a given time zone) into the listings by the mid-1980s; some cable channels – mainly premium channels – had an asterisk displayed by them in that edition's channel lineup page (which listed the broadcast and cable channels whose program information was provided in each edition and was featured in the page immediately preceding the log/grid listings), which meant that it was only listed in the evening grid (and later the Pay-TV Movie Guide, which featured synopses for films airing that week on the premium channels featured in both the log and grid listings). 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), in the grids only.
As the years went on, cable channels were added to the listings. To help offset this, the May 11–17, 1985 issue introduced a smaller Helvetica font with some other cosmetic changes; a show's length was listed after the show's title – not in the description as it was previously. Another listings change took place in 1996; the show's title was no longer listed in all-uppercase, but a mixed case font (now changed to Franklin Gothic) as well. In addition, the generic title "MOVIE" that appeared before a film's synopsis was replaced with the actual title, which had been displayed within the film description.
Because most cable systems published their own listing magazine reflecting their channel lineup, and now have a separate guide channel or an electronic program guide that that can be activated by remote and provide the same information in a more detailed manner, 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 in 1998, 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 as well as those available mainly on digital cable and satellite, although most of these newly added channels were placed within the primetime grids with only a few (such as Animal Planet and MSNBC) also being incorporated into the log listings. TV Guide's circulation went from almost 20 million in 1970 to less than three million in 2007.
News Corporation sold TV Guide to the United Video Satellite Group, parent company of Prevue Networks, in February 1999 for $800 million and 60 million shares of stock. In October of that year, Gemstar International Group Ltd., the maker of the VCR Plus+ device and schedule system, and incidentally was partially owned by News Corporation, purchased United Video Satellite Group.
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 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, there was also a list of cable channels (also broadcast channels in some editions) that were listed in the grids only. From its inception until 2003, TV Guide 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 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday listings were condensed down to four grids: 5–8 a.m., 8–11 a.m., 11 a.m.–2 p.m., and 2–5 p.m. If programming differed from one weekday to the next, the generic "Various Programs" was listed. This change became permanent in all TV Guide editions beginning with the 2003 Fall Preview issue. The Pay TV Movie Guide was also restructured as "The Big Movie Guide", with film listings expanded to include all broadcast stations and cable channels, as well as pay-per-view. Beginning in January 2004, the midnight–5 a.m. listings (and also 5 a.m.–8 a.m. on the Saturday and Sunday listings) ceased to include any out-of-town broadcast stations, just stations within the edition's home market and cable channels. Starting in June 2004 in most editions, the channel lineup page showing the stations for each local edition was dropped.
In July 2004, the overnight listings were removed entirely, replaced by a grid that ran from 11 p.m.–2 a.m. and had the edition's home market broadcast stations, with a handful of cable channels. It also listed a small selection of late-night movies on some channels. The daytime grids also changed from the 5 a.m.–5 p.m. listings, to 7 a.m.–7 p.m. By this point, log listings were restricted to programs airing from 7–11 p.m. In early 2005, more channels were added to the prime-time and late night grids. The magazine also changed format to start the week's listings in each issue on Sunday, rather than Saturday, which had previously changed from beginning with Friday listings.
On May 18, 2005, TV Guide launched TV Guide Talk, a weekly podcast available for free. The podcast was headlined by TV Guide reporter/personality Michael Ausiello, and was co-hosted by his co-workers, Angel Cohn, Daniel Manu, and Maitland McDonagh. The podcast was discontinued in 2008 with Ausiello's move to Entertainment Weekly.
On July 26, 2005, Gemstar-TV Guide announced that TV Guide would change in format from its digest size format to a larger full-size national magazine that would offer more stories and fewer program listings. All 140 local editions (which varied from editions for individual cable and satellite providers to those for multiple media markets within a given state of multi-state region) were also eliminated, being replaced by two editions: one for the Eastern and Central time zones, and one for the Pacific and Mountain time zones. 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 week's issue with Monday listings rather than Sunday listings. As a result of the elimination of the local editions, broadcast stations were replaced by broadcast network schedules with "Local Programming" used to denote time periods in which syndicated programming 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 week of December 25, 2006 to January 7, 2007. In early 2008, the daytime Monday-Friday and 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.
With the acquisition of Gemstar-TV Guide by Macrovision on May 2, 2008, that company, which purchased Gemstar-TV Guide to mostly take advantage of their lucrative and profitable VCR Plus and electronic program guide patents, stated they wanted to sell both the magazine and TV Guide Network, along with the company's TVG horse racing channel to other parties.
OpenGate Capital era
On October 13, 2008, Macrovision sold the money-losing magazine to equity fund OpenGate Capital for $1. As part of the sale, however, the companion website was retained by Macrovision (who then sold it to One Equity Partners), with all editorial connections between the magazine and website severed, including the end of 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. However, TVGuidemagazine.com was shut down on June 1, 2010 and TV Guide Magazine and TVGuide.com entered into a deal to restore content from the magazine to the TVGuide.com website, which Lionsgate bought along with the TV Guide Network in January 2009.
In January 2009, the magazine cut several networks from its grid listings, including DIY Network and MTV, citing "space concerns"; however, two cuts, those of The CW and TV Guide Network, were seen as suspicious and arbitrary, as the guide 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 continue 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 listings for The CW and MTV were brought back to the listings after numerous emails to the magazine protesting the move, with listings for several low-rated networks being removed as a consequence. The other listings were slowly re-added, until TV Guide Network's schedule returned to the listings pages in June 2010 with their logo prominent within the grids as part of the deal with Lionsgate's TV Guide division.
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.
TV Guide Network
In 1998, the TV Guide brand and magazine was acquired by United Video Satellite Group, parent company of the Prevue Channel – a channel carried by cable television providers that featured a scrolling program guide and short segments featuring previews of upcoming programs. Its new owners promptly rebranded Prevue as the TV Guide Channel in 1999. After Gemstar's acquisition of TV Guide, the channel began to shift towards airing full-length programs featuring celebrity gossip and movie talk alongside the program listings; the channel was rebranded as the TV Guide Network in 2007.
Following the sale of TV Guide's magazine and network by Macrovision to OpenState Capital and Lionsgate respectively, the magazine and TV Guide Network became operationally separate, although the two properties still collaborate on content for its website. After CBS Corporation bought stakes in TV Guide's properties in 2013, TV Guide Network was rebranded under the abbreviation TVGN in April 2013 to de-emphasize its ties to TV Guide magazine, as the channel transitions into a general entertainment format and gradually decommissions its scrolling listings grid from the channel.
Listings pattern history
- Friday to Thursday: April 3, 1953–July 15, 1954
- Saturday to Friday: July 17, 1954–April 9, 2004
- Sunday to Saturday: April 11, 2004–October 15, 2005
- Monday to Sunday: October 17, 2005–present
Other usage of the TV Guide name
- A Canadian edition of TV Guide, following the same format as the U.S. magazine but with editorial content directed from Canada, was launched in 1977 (prior to this, the U.S. edition was published in Canada with appropriate localized television listings). It continued as a print publication until 2006, after which it was replaced by the website tvguide.ca, which operated until December 2012 at which point tvguide.ca was incorporated into another website, The Loop by Sympatico.
- The term "TV guide" has partly become a genericized trademark to describe other TV listings appearing on the web 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 shown at SIGGRAPH 1999. National TV guides 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. That version merged with competitor publication TV Week in 1980. TV Week has a very similar logo to the TV Guide logo.
- 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.
- Mexico offers a digest-sized publication called TV Guía, which is unrelated to the U.S. publication. It is published by Editorial Televisa.
- In Italy, a digest-size Guida TV is published by Mondadori since September 1976.
- List of TV Guide covers
- List of TV Guide editions
- TV Guide Canada
- TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time
- TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time
- "AAM: Total Circ for Consumer Magazines". Audit Bureau of Circulations. Retrieved July 27, 2013.
- Lee Wagner, 83; Founding Owner of TV Guide Magazine, Los Angeles Times, September 14, 1993.
- Hart, Hugh (June 14, 2010). "June 14, 1948: TV Guide Prototype Hits N.Y. Newsstands". Wired. Retrieved 14 June 2010.
- Ives, Nat (October 15, 2008). "TV Guide Sold for a Buck". adage.com. Advertising Age. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
- Clifford, Stephanie (December 8, 2008). "TV Guide, Once Master of the Airwaves, Tries to Survive in a Competitive Category". The New York Times.
- Macrovision: Press Release[dead link]
- Macrovision (December 12, 2008). "Macrovision, Allen Shapiro and One Equity Partners Announce Agreement for Sale of TV Guide Network" (Press release). Macrovision. Retrieved July 17, 2010. Archived 19 July 2010 at WebCite
- "Where in the World Is Matt (Roush)? - Matt Roush". TVGuide.com. 2008-12-12. Retrieved 2010-04-27.
- Ives, Nat (May 21, 2010). "TV Guide Teams with Its Former Website and Network". adage.com. Advertising Age. Retrieved 2010-07-17.
- "Lions Gate Swallows TV Guide". Business Week. January 6, 2009. Retrieved 2010-07-17.
- Schneider, Michael (January 12, 2009). TV Guide drops CW, MTV listings. Variety.com. Retrieved 2010-07-18. Archived 19 July 2010 at WebCite
- Dave on Demand: Mentalist showed powers only in ratings philly.com, January 10, 2009.[dead link]
- Schneider, Michael (February 4, 2009). "TV Guide relists CW, MTV shows - Entertainment News, TV News, Media". Variety. Retrieved 2010-04-27.
- Andreeva, Nellie. "CBS Poised To Buy Half Of TV Guide, Partner With Lionsgate." Deadline.com (March 22, 2013)
- Andreeva, Nellie. "It’s Official: CBS Acquires Half Of TV Guide, Partners With Lionsgate." Deadline.com (March 26, 2013)
- Andreeva, Nellie. "It’s Official: CBS Takes Full Control Of TVGuide.Com, Acquiring Lionsgate’s 50%." Deadline.com (May 31, 2013)
- "Tvguides.ca - Tv Guides TV Guides". Whois.domaintools.com. 2010-03-06. Retrieved 2010-04-27.
- Catone, Josh (April 3, 2007). Your Guide to Online TV Guides: 10 Services Compared – ReadWriteWeb. ReadWriteWeb. Retrieved 17 July 2010. Archived 19 July 2010 at WebCite
- Arrington, Michael (July 30, 2006). "Overview: The End of Paper TV Guides". TechCrunch.
- Ritter, Don (August 4, 2007). TV Guides - interactive video and sound installation with live television, 8 x 5m, 1995. aesthetic-machinery.com - Artist's website. Retrieved 2010-07-17.
- Fairfax Media: Publications Fairfax Media NZ. Retrieved 2010-07-17.