The $50M acquisition is the latest in a series of deals that Tribune Media has made to feed the growing demand for data that consumers access in pay TV on-screen guides, online media services, and consumer electronics products. The company's Gracenote unit will harness Baseline's info about film and television productions. Tribune says Baseline has data about 300,000 movies and TV projects, nearly 1.5M TV and film professionals, and box office data for 45 territories. While Tribune Media Services has some cast and crew data, "Baseline goes extremely deep on that information," Gracenote CEO John Batter tells me.
In addition, Baseline's The Studio System platform will give Gracenote an entree into serving studio and TV network pros. "We look to expand that business," Batter says. "That is a growth opportunity for us."
Dealmakers have been busily trading info services companies during the past few years. Tribune -- which has long syndicated data from TMS -- bought Gracenote from Sony in December, added TV By The Numbers in April and India-based What's-ON in July. Baseline also has bounced around: It was owned by Hollywood Media until 2006, when the New York Times bought it. In 2011 Baseline went back to Hollywood Media's owners Laurie Silvers and Mitchell Rubenstein in a private deal. Tribune says it does not plan to change Baseline's Los Angeles-based operation.
Batter, who just assumed the CEO job yesterday, says Tribune now has "the best services in the market." Gracenote's data show up on Hulu, M-Go, Amazon, iTunes, iTunes Radio, and Spotify -- as well as 55M cars equipped to offer entertainment from smartphones. And the dealmaking should continue, possibly to reach additional markets or to add data about sports, games, and books. "We will be expanding again," Batter says.