The joint venture offering children’s and family entertainment and educational content is to be a multi-platform initiative premiering in late 2010. It eventually will replace Discovery Kids.
Discovery Communications and Hasbro Inc. today announced an agreement to form a 50/50 joint venture, including a television network and Web site, dedicated, they said, “to high-quality children’s and family entertainment and educational programming built around some of the most well-known brands in the world.” As part of the transaction, the joint venture also will receive a minority interest in the U.S. version of Hasbro.com.
Both the network and the venture’s online component will feature content from Hasbro’s portfolio of entertainment and educational properties built over the past 90 years, including original programming for animation, game shows and live-action series and specials.
New programming will be based on brands such as Romper Room, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble, Cranium, My Little Pony, G.I. Joe, Game of Life, Tonka and Transformers, among many others. The TV network and online presence also will include content from Discovery’s extensive library of award-winning children’s educational programming, such as Bindi the Jungle Girl, Endurance, Tutenstein, Hi-5, Flight 29 Down and Peep and the Big Wide World, as well as programming from third-party producers.
“Hasbro continues to evolve as a company with an unwavering vision of reimagining the potential of our incredible portfolio of brands well beyond traditional toys and games,” said Brian Goldner, Hasbro’s president-CEO.
“We believe the time is right for Hasbro to take the next step into television through our partnership with Discovery Communications,” continued Goldner. “David Zaslav and his talented team have the experience, track record and ambition necessary to make this joint venture a long-term success as we build this network. We look forward to creating fun, stimulating and educational content that will allow us to deliver all-new brand experiences to the young and ‘young at heart’ — anywhere and anytime they want.”
“This joint venture reinforces Discovery’s strategy to develop strong brands, maximize the potential of our extensive distribution in the U.S. and work with the highest quality content partners to create long-term value,” said David Zaslav, president-CEO of Discovery Communications. “Brian Goldner and the dynamic management team at Hasbro have a long track record of developing well-respected quality brands that entertain and encourage creative play. The combined assets of both partners provide a compelling platform for building a trusted children’s destination that engages and enlightens a thirsty and growing audience.”
At the closing of the transaction, Hasbro will purchase a 50 percent stake in the venture, which will hold the assets related to Discovery Kids Network in the United States, for which Discovery Communications will receive $300 million. The joint venture’s rebranded network is expected to debut in late 2010 reaching approximately 60 million Nielsen households in the U.S. with programming geared to boys and girls 14 years of age and under. The joint venture also will participate in merchandising opportunities associated with on-air content. The closing of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions including satisfaction of all requirements of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.
Each company will have equal representation on a board of directors that will oversee a management team responsible for programming, scheduling and operations. The search for a president and general manager for the network will begin immediately, the partners said. Discovery Communications will handle advertising sales services, distribution, origination and other operational requirements for the proposed venture, while Hasbro will provide studio-produced programming.
Hasbro will also make a separate investment to establish a creative team that will allow Hasbro to create and produce “consumer-driven content.” Creative work will start in the next few months beginning with early stage development for properties including Romper Room, Tonka, G.I. Joe, Transformers and My Little Pony. The creative team will have the capability to produce animated, live-action, and game show programming as well as content designed for digital and mobile extensions.
Programming on the network will be designed to entertain and educate. This will include a number of daily hours voluntarily devoted to educational/informative content.
The network will continue to operate as Discovery Kids until the debut of the to-be-named channel and new programming slate. Discovery Communications will retain the Discovery Kids brand for, among other things, its international networks and its licensing and merchandising business.
Hasbro was advised by The William Morris Agency (WMA), John Fogelman of WMA and Bank of America/Merrill Lynch & Co. in connection with this transaction.
Discovery was advised by Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.