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The Hub looks to attract indie prodcos

After months of industry speculation, the Discovery-Hasbro JV unveiled a name and channel branding for the net that's scheduled to take over The Discovery Kids US feed this fall. And good news may be in store for producers. The Hub, as it's been dubbed, is on the hunt for new series, in particular family comedies in live-action or animated formats.
February 2, 2010

After months of industry speculation, the Discovery-Hasbro JV unveiled a name and channel branding for the net that’s scheduled to take over The Discovery Kids US feed this fall. And good news may be in store for producers. The Hub, as it’s been dubbed, is on the hunt for new series, in particular family comedies in live-action or animated formats.

President and CEO Margaret Loesch says The Hub’s new VP of scheduling and acquisitions, Lou Fazio, and director of programming, Ted Biaselli, will be at KidScreen Summit this month looking for shows to fill out not only the channel’s launch schedule, but also to feed into its slate for years two and three. Besides acquisitions, Loesch says her team already has roughly two dozen concepts for original shows in development. And the programming team will be moving quickly to get a firm schedule in place in the next couple of months.

Loesch says that her team is also taking a supportive approach to commissioning content. ‘As far as I know, we’re the only major kids network telling producers that we don’t have to own your product to make a commitment,’ she notes. In fact, in order to provide a competitive alternative for indie producers, the fledgling channel will consider partnerships, a straightforward license fee structure, or introducing prodcos to companies that can help provide deficit financing to get a show made.

The Hub – whose name is meant to signify the network is aiming to be a central place for kids and families to gather – will reach roughly 60 million homes on its inherited feed. In terms of programming, it’s casting a wide net and plans to feature shows spanning comedy, animation, live action and game shows that serve a core six to 12 audience. Loesch adds that a special emphasis will be placed on programming for kids at the top end of the six to nine demo – a specific target age that she says isn’t being served by the big-three US kidcasters. (She contends their content often skews younger or caters to tweens.) So super-serving seven to nines, she concludes, is The Hub’s point of difference.

Of course, newly launched Hasbro Studios is going to be a key supplier to The Hub, and it’s currently in pre-production on series based on the toyco’s IPs, including Transformers and My Little Pony.

Online, hubworld.com will offer kids access to video clips, interactive games and community features to extend the kidnet’s content experience. To that end, Loesch says she’s working closely with The Hub’s creative team to put together a cohesive online/channel plan. Original games are in development, and pre-existing titles have been lined up for the website’s launch.

As for the back-end business at the ad-supported channel, The Hub is in initial talks with potential advertisers. ‘We’re trying to be very creative in how we present our advertising and what the advertising load is.’

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