Hasbro and Discovery not toying around with the Hub
There will be another player in the kid-TV biz starting Sunday when the Hub -- a cable channel from Discovery Communications and Hasbro -- flips on the switch.
Born out of the ashes of Discovery Kids, a cable network in 60 million homes that never made much of an impression, Discovery and Hasbro are hoping eventually to challenge Viacom's Nickelodeon empire, Time Warner's Cartoon Network and Disney's Disney Channel and Disney XD for a piece of the more than $1 billion in advertising and sponsorship money that is spent trying to reach kids every year.
But the Hub also will be getting a lot of scrutiny from watchdogs. Although the channel has said only about 20% of its programming will be based on toys and games from Hasbro, some activists are griping that the network will end up being nothing more than a shill for the toy giant.
The FCC has regulations about advertising on kids' TV, and the Hub already has said it will carry fewer commercials than its rivals in hopes of convincing parents it's about the content, not about moving toys from shelves into shopping carts.
Running the channel is Margaret Loesch, the well-regarded kids' TV executive who made Fox Kids a powerhouse 20 years ago. She promises the network will be more than just ads for Hasbro. "There have been many shows created just to try to help move toy lines that have come and gone very quickly," Loesch said.
Read more about the launch of the Hub: "New kids' TV channel raises product-placement concerns."
-- Joe Flint
Photo: Margaret Loesch. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times