TVG Targeted for Two More States

A deal struck Friday between Gemstar-TV Guide and the nation's third largest cable television operator will allow the TV Games Network to enter two new states within the next six months.

Gemstar-TV Guide, the parent company of the TVG satellite horse racing network and interactive wagering provider, signed a 20-year deal to provide its patented interactive program guide to the digital customers of Comcast. At the end of 2000, Comcast had 1.35 million digital cable subscribers and expects to have 2 million by the end of the year. The interactive program guide is an on-screen directory that allows viewers to preview, tune-in, and record television programs using their remote controls.

Because Comcast also has customers in states with legal account wagering, the deal gives TVG immediate room to expand. TVG is now available in only Kentucky, Oregon, Maryland, and Louisiana.

"Comcast has agreed to roll out TVG in two of their top states within the next two quarters," said Peter Boylan III, co-chairman and co-chief operating officer for Gemstar, during a teleconference Friday. Boylan would not specify which states Comcast is targeting.

TVG spokesman John Hindman said confidentiality agreements associated with the Comcast deal prevented him from disclosing where the network would expand.

Comcast, however, is based in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania is already home to telephone account wagering systems run by Penn National and Philadelphia Park. Executives with the two tracks could not be reached for comment.

The markets reacted strongly to the deal. Gemstar stock rose $6.25, or 21.6%, to close Friday at $35.19.