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Ancestry.com renews contract for TV series

Published August 26, 2010 6:37 pm

Genealogy • NBC show helps celebrities discover their roots.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Ancestry.com is extending its relationship with NBC for a second season of the TV series "Who Do You Think You Are?" that features celebrities discovering their family history.

The Provo company has signed a new contract with NBC that calls for it to sponsor the program and to provide marketing and research. In return, the program serves as a marketing tool for the company's website-based business that sells access to records and other tools to uncover family histories.

The first season of the series that debuted in March featured the stories of seven celebrities including actress Sarah Jessica Parker, NFL great Emmitt Smith and filmmaker Spike Lee. Also featured was actress Lisa Kudrow, who helps produce the show and who convinced NBC to create the program in the United States after seeing the British version.

CEO Tim Sullivan said the company was looking to do something similar this next season as it did in the last in which its website was shown as a celebrity was researching her or his family history.

"It was not something that felt out of place, and it very effectively moved the story along," said Sullivan.

In its latest filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said an increase in subscribers to the website was "primarily as a result of increased interest in Ancestry.com stemming from NBC's release of the U.S. version of the television show "Who Do You Think You Are?"

Sullivan said beyond the bump in subscribers, the company views the TV series as "something that could, over the long term, really change the basic level of awareness" about family history research.

Ancestry.com's shares finished the day Thursday at $18.80, or down 81 cents. The company's 52-week high was $21.35.

At the end of 2009, the company reported it had almost 1.1 million subscribers who pay monthly fees averaging $16.50 a month.

Earlier this month, Ancestry.com acquired ProGenealogists Inc., a genealogy research company that had been hired to do much of the research for the first season of "Who Do You Think You Are?"

NBC declined to say who the celebrities participating in the second season would be.

The show is produced by Wall to Wall Entertainment in collaboration with Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky and their production company.

tharvey@sltrib.com