Tribune Digital Ventures has acquired electronic program guide provider What’s On to help it grow in developing markets such as India and the Middle East. The $ 27 million acquisition will also help Tribune bring more data on foreign programming to its existing markets.
The deal will strengthen a rapidly growing division within Tribune. Digital Ventures is the newly formed technology arm of the multimedia services company, which focuses on developing products to serve a growing market of providers offering digital video services.
Tribune has bolstered its European program guide business with the acquisition of Gracenote in an agreement reached earlier this year. The What’s On agreement will complement this purchase by expanding its presence in some important new markets, notably India, where What’s On is the largest supplier of EPG data.
India is the third largest market for cable services behind the United States and China, and is growing rapidly. Today, the country has 175 million subscribers and a growing middle class subscribes to these services.
What’s-ON also serves other markets including United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Bahrain, Indonesia, Kenya and Sri Lanka. In total, it powers EPG data from over 50 million set-top boxes in the region.
Rich Cusick, general manager of the company’s video portion, said What’s On serves an incredibly complex market characterized by thousands of different local queues that change frequently. Besides creating technology to deal with these issues, it also has some really good customization tools for viewers.
He said that just as mobile service has overtaken fixed service in many developing markets, digital video services are outperforming traditional analog video services. As a result, much of the technology What’s On designed to serve digital operations can be applied to future services in more established markets like the United States or Europe.
With this acquisition, Tribune will deliver television programming and video metadata in more than 50 countries and more than 30 languages ââto more than 600 million pay-TV subscribers. Additionally, it will be able to use the metadata it obtains from What’s On to bolster an increasing amount of foreign programming that is served in its existing footprint.