Don't let the summer television programming doldrums get you down. It certainly isn't getting in the way of Gemstar-TV Guide (NASDAQ:GMST) getting out there to play the field. Shares of the TV Guide parent popped higher last night after the company announced that it is exploring the sale of the company.

There's no harm in feeling out the market, especially with private equity nibbling away at any company with a pulse these days. A potential big winner here could be News Corp. (NYSE:NWS), the media giant that owns a 41% stake in the company. That is, of course, assuming that News Corp. isn't the ultimate eater of the company.

Gemstar-TV Guide is actually a nice catch, once you understand what's driving the company's financial performance these days.

No, it's not the old TV Guide weekly print publication. The company is actually losing money there, and subscribers are falling off like flies. There are too many providers of free online listings these days. The company now draws more unique monthly visitors to than it attracts through its print circulation of 3.3 million guides.

It's pretty bad, right? Folks are getting their listings off their TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO) boxes, online through Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO), or through their cable providers, yet that's also an opportunity for Gemstar-TV Guide. The company isn't only turning a healthy profit with its TV Guide Channel, but it's also making some juicy gains through licensing its interactive programming guide technology, as well as its VCR+ Plus platform.

It's also syndicating its listings through sites like Yahoo!. So even if TV Guide itself is a loss leader, the company has been consistently profitable over the past few quarters. A patent-rich company like Gemstar-TV Guide is ripe for a bidding war, fueled by private equity firms who feel they can do a better job of squeezing those patents tighter and are possibly deluded into thinking that the print publication side can be turned around.

So you don't have to wait until the fall primetime lineup to see something exciting on TV. It's happening now, over at Gemstar-TV Guide.

More recent Gemstar-TV Guide coverage on the Foolish remote control:

• Even a dramatic makeover wasn't enough to save the TV Guide publication.

• The company had no problem turning a profit last year, though.

• The company made a cyberspace splash last year by acquiring

TiVo and Yahoo! are Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter recommendations. If you know how to work a TiVo remote, then you know how easy it is to nab a 30-day trial subscription to the newsletter service.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does love his TiVo, and he does own shares in TiVo. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.