Why Would A DRM Company Buy TV Guide?

from the because-it's-thinking-in-the-wrong-direction dept

Macrovision, a company that’s well known for its DRM products, made quite a splash today with its announced plans to buy Gemstar-TV Guide for $2.8 billion. The rationale for the deal seems to be that the folks at Macrovision may actually believe the commonly stated myth that DRM “opens new business models.” Macrovision talks about how combining its DRM with Gemstar listings and content could enable a bunch of new offerings — but it’s difficult to believe those new offerings will be particularly compelling. DRM has never been about enabling new business models, but about making any content less valuable by limiting its usefulness in the hopes of being able to charge separately for each use. Perhaps that’s what they mean by “new business models” but it’s hardly a business model if it’s simply pissing off consumers. As Saul Hansell at the NY Times notes, the direction Macrovision seems to be moving in is (along with the recent story of hard drives that block MP3 sharing) one where technology companies feel that they need to be policing how people use content. That’s a very anti-consumer position to be in — and it’s generally not a good business proposition to be focused on limiting consumers. Apparently, investors agree — as they’ve sent the stock price of both companies way down in reaction to the deal.

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Companies: gemstar, macrovision, tv guide

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Comments on “Why Would A DRM Company Buy TV Guide?”

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Will Everly (user link) says:

Redefining Business Models

From a pure marketing approach, TVGuide seems to be rather old school.

I come from the era where small market TV stations could not even afford to advertise in TV guide.

Today, TVGUIDE is not much of a force in any media space that matters or has any upcoming future value. Its only saving grace maybe brand recognition and that is only valuable for so long.

Since the 1980’s TVGuide has been sold and resold at least 3 times and typically to expanding and redefining buyer groups.

Simply put, at 2.8 billion it has to be way over priced from any practical approach.

Bill Pytlovany (profile) says:

It's all about the EPG patent

Gemstar essentially owns( or claims to own ) the patent on any Electronic Program Guides They’ve been aggressive in going after anyone who displays any kind of list of programs on a display screen.

Case in point, TiVo came out with one the easist and most innovative EPG’s and Gemstar went after them.
The results, all TiVo’s now have a TVGuide option along with the TV Guide logo on their EPG screen. No one ever uses the old ugly TV Guide format but it’s there and TiVo has to pay a royalty.
You’ll also find most new TV’s that include any kind of Electronic Program Guide use TV Guides.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: It's all about the EPG patent

The thing that inspires me to productivity and greatness more than anything is my fond imagination of this scenario in my future:

I own a business that makes a product as great and revolutionary as tivo. Someone comes and tries to force me to do stupid crap like what you described. I refuse. I get thrown in jail. All my employees refuse (or they get fired. by me. from jail. I still own the business). Then they all get fired or thrown in jail. Then I get some chinese to make the product and sneak it into the country as contraband. Then the BATF/RIAA starts breaking down peoples doors to confiscate my product.

Ahhh I can only imagine.

sean says:


I think the reason is for more control. What i mean by control is that

1. they can start putting more copyright software on tv and movies so that DVR’s like tivo motorola etc cant copy the files off of the dvr.

2. control time aloted for saving the movie. (some of this is already in place.

3. they need something else in their company so that they can survive as a company in this ever narrowing market.

4-80-sicks says:

The article is hilarious:

Improved digital rights management technologies could underpin advanced entertainment offerings, such as giving users the ability to download a song they hear in a movie while they’re still watching it, Gemstar officials said.

Yes, that will be the day. This is along the lines of demands that Youtube not allow uploading of copyrighted content: It expects that a computer can distinguish content, or that humans constantly monitor every internet connection. Sorry, neither is going to happen–the former MIGHT, in fifty years or more.

They also foresee cross-platform offerings through which consumers could pull up a personalized TV listings guide, access movie reviews before downloading a film or tap into their MP3 collection from any device.

“Today, that simple experience is prevented by interoperability barriers between devices and services,”

Seems to me that interoperability barriers is what Macrovision is all about? What barriers are there without someone’s hand creating them, anyway? I can already do all of those things. Sure, Macrovision wants to automate all this for me and commodify it for the folks back home, but only at the cost of control.

I guess stenography journalism is what happens when you get people who know nothing about tech writing tech articles.

Here’s another article http://www.reuters.com/article/technologyNews/idUSKUA77565220071207 with equally hilarious details, like “For the consumer, (this deal) is all about discovery, making it very easy to find stuff (and) to acquire it, doing an automatic download.” Oh if only it were true. OK, enough ranting for now…

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