Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based toyco Hasbro and Discovery Communications have joined forces to create a 50/50 joint-venture multiplatform network for US kids that’s set to beam into 60 million homes in late 2010.
Quelling speculations that have surrounded the future of Discovery Kids US, Hasbro president and CEO Brian Goldner and Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav announced that the joint-venture will focus on children’s and family entertainment and educational content, as it moves forward with new programming based on Hasbro’s portfolio of classic brands.
The yet-to-be-named network and future online hub will also take advantage of existing net Discovery Kid’s library of educational series from Bindi The Jungle Girl to Peep and the Big Wide World. Moving forward, the companies will be reaching out to existing partners as well as new third-party producers to develop new and original programming targeting kids14 and under, as well as reinventing existing brands for the TV space. In fact, early stage development is already in the works on taking classic Hasbro brands like Romper Room, Tonka, G.I. Joe, Transformers and My Little Pony into the TV space.
Right now, Goldner, Zaslav and their teams are on the hunt for a president and GM to helm the joint-venture, as well as a dedicated new management team and creative team, with announcements on these appointments to be made in the coming months.
The creative team will be able to produce animated, live-action, and game show programming, which can also be designed for digital and mobile.
On the website front, the joint venture will receive a minority interest in Hasbro.com US, which will be evolving over the next few years to include more digital content.
Discovery will handle advertising sales services, distribution, origination and other operational requirements in the meantime, while Hasbro will provide studio-produced programming. In exchange for the 50% stake in the new US net, Hasbro paid US$300 million. The international Discovery Kids nets and L&M biz, however, will continue to operate as is.
When questioned during a press conference held earlier this morning about how the venture will deal with likely critiques about its overtly commercial nature, as the toyco’s 50% stake marks a first in the kids entertainment biz, Hasbro’s Goldner responded, ‘Our priority with the network and this joint-venture is the network first,’ adding that the focus will be on telling compelling stories through its brands. He cited the Transformers TV and movie series as an example, and that the cable business provides Hasbro with the opportunity to grow in revenues and earnings.
As for series like Transformers Animated currently airing on Cartoon Network, Goldner didn’t confirm whether or not Hasbro’s brand-based series will eventually be exclusive to the joint-venture, but instead replied, ‘We will make new shows around our brands for this network and new iterations of Transformers or other shows will go on this network.’