TLC Network Said to Be in Talks to Pick Up Ancestry Show
Discovery Communications Inc. (DISCA)’s TLC is in talks to pick up “Who Do You Think You Are,” a show that works with Ancestry.com Inc. (ACOM) to unearth the genealogy of celebrities, two people familiar with the discussions said.
Producers of the television show, which was canceled by NBC earlier this year, are also in talks with other networks, said the people, who asked not to be identified yesterday because the discussions are private. Negotiations with the TLC cable network are at an advanced stage, one of the people said.
NBC’s cancellation contributed to a plunge that shaved a third of Ancestry.com’s market value earlier this year. A new show would help attract more users and boost prospects for the sale of the company, which has been talking to potential buyers, people familiar with the discussions said last month.
Shares of Provo, Utah-based Ancestry.com rose less than 1 percent to $31.42 at the close in New York yesterday. The stock then rose as much as 3.7 percent in after-market trading. Discovery climbed 1.6 percent to $59.44.
“Who Do You Think You Are” was adapted from a British show and lasted three seasons on NBC, where it delved into the ancestry of such celebrities as Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwyneth Paltrow and Spike Lee. The show, which touted Ancestry.com’s genealogical data, would typically find surprising facts about each week’s guest.
Michelle Russo, a spokeswoman for Silver Spring, Maryland- based Discovery, declined to comment yesterday, as did Heather Erickson, a spokeswoman at Ancestry.com.
Ancestry.com gets most of its revenue from online subscriptions, which let users study their family trees. The final season of the NBC show accounted for 5 percent to 7 percent of Ancestry.com’s marketing budget, Chief Financial Officer Howard Hochhauser said on a conference call in July.
Shares have surged 39 percent since June 5, when Bloomberg reported that the company had hired Frank Quattrone’s Qatalyst Partners LLC to find buyers.
Ancestry.com asked potential buyers including Permira Advisers LLP and TPG Capital LP to increase their competing bids for a possible buyout, two people with knowledge of the matter had said last month. They asked not to be identified because discussions are private. Ancestry.com turned down a bid of $35 a share, one person had said.
“Ancestry.com being a profitable market leader is very attractive for private equity,” Raghavan Sarathy, an analyst at Dougherty & Co., said in a recent interview.
Ancestry.com, founded in 1983 as a publisher of genealogical books and magazines, reported second-quarter sales and profit in July that topped analysts’ estimates, citing user gains and demand for new products. The company raised its sales forecast for 2012 to as much as $480 million and said it passed the 2 million-user milestone in the period by providing access to more information, including on DNA and U.S. census figures.
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