New on the kids broadcast scene this advertising upfront season, Discovery Kids/Hasbro joint-venture The Hub has been busy lining up its programming slate and online repertoire for its planned October 10th launch into 60 million US homes. And in addition to the usual brand-building a nascent network engages in while trying to lure ad support, The Hub has spent a considerable amount of energy convincing potential toy advertisers – the largest single ad category in the kids space – that buying exposure on the channel won’t be the same as supporting a rival Hasbro channel.
‘Our initial meetings with several of the large toy companies were understandably challenging,’ says The Hub CEO and president Margaret Loesch. ‘They had a preconceived notion, I think stoked by the competition, that we are the Hasbro toy channel.’ Since then, Loesch says her succession of one-on-one upfront meetings has managed to adjust the misconception. She says about 75% of the net’s content will not be based on Hasbro brands, and adds that while Hasbro is advertising on the channel, it will pay the same rates as other companies. ‘We can’t succeed if we rely on one company to provide advertising and programming,’ says Loesch.
To that end, The Hub has announced several original and acquired live-action and animated series and specials. Hub original series include: Dan Vs. (Film Roman in association with The Hatchery); R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour (The Hatchery), based on the spooky novel series of the same name; and The 99, (Teshkeel Media & Endemol Digital UK Production Group), also based on a comic book series.
The Hub has also made a number of international acquisitions that will get their US debut, including Animal Mechanicals (Halifax Films), Cosmic Quantum Ray (Moonscoop), Deltora Quest (Dentsu Entertainment USA), Fraggle Rock (The Jim Henson Company), Maryoku Yummy (American Greetings Properties and DQ Entertainment, in association with Telegael), Meerkat Manor (Oxford Scientific Films), Strawberry Shortcake (Amercian Greetings Properties), The WotWots (Pukeko Pictures) and Twisted Whiskers (American Greetings Properties, co-produced with DQ Entertainment and Moonscoop). Also on the programming sked is Family Movie Night that will show a yet-to-be-finalized list of popular family movies.
These shows join the channel’s inevitable lineup of Hasbro-branded shows from newly founded Hasbro Studios. Family Game Night is a live-action, original game show in which kids and adults play a variety of Hasbro games like Cranium, Bop-It and Connect4, while established Hasbro toys get the series treatment in the form of G.I. Joe Renegades, Pound Puppies, Transformers Prime and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
The new kidnet’s dayparts are being split up into a preschool block (ages two to 5) from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., kids afternoon/kids prime (ages six to 12) from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., family prime access from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and family prime from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
‘From an advertiser’s perspective, a new network is beneficial because we can offer prices that bigger and more established networks are not prone to do,’ says Loesch. She says her sales team is selling around two key demos. The preschool block will offer advertising for moms or caregivers with young kids, the afternoon block will target kids six to 12, and the prime time slot will also advertise to families with young children, but with a slightly broader reach. Besides toy companies, Loesch says the sales team has been meeting with several categories of advertisers, including food, gifts and apparel manufacturers.