In an effort to build one of the world's biggest digital media services companies, content rights software vendor Macrovision said Friday that it's reached an agreement to acquire Gemstar-TV Guide in a cash deal worth about $2.8 billion.
Macrovision said it plans to combine its digital rights management technologies with Gemstar-TV Guide's vast library of entertainment programming listings to create interactive content information platforms accessible to consumers through their televisions, personal computers, cell phones and other devices.
For instance, Macrovision foresees 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," Macrovision officials said in a statement. The companies also envision new online services for the 20 million subscribers to the print version of Gemstar-TV Guide's TV Guide magazine.
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.
Under the deal's terms, Gemstar-TV Guide shareholders would get the option of receiving, per share, $6.35 in cash or .2548 of a share in a new holding company that will own both TV Guide and Macrovision and will be 53% controlled by Macrovision.
The deal is subject to shareholder approval and other closing conditions.
The agreement between Macrovision and Gemstar-TV Guide is the latest example of how companies in diverse industries are striking alliances in an effort to solve thorny rights management issues that cut across entertainment and technology and threaten to stifle the growth of digital media.
Microsoft, for instance, has done extensive work with the Recording Industry Association of America to ensure that Windows Media users have access to a wide array of titles but aren't able to play illegitimately obtained MP3's on their desktops or mobile devices.
Such partnerships are arising from the fact that content producers see digital technology as both a boon and a blessing -- at once opening their products to new markets while making them more vulnerable to copyright theft.