The Hub: What Could Have Been

Well, folks, we’re approaching the final week of The Hub network being called The Hub. Next Monday (October 13) will mark the beginning of The Hub’s rebrand as Discovery Family.

Disc Fam logo

Hasbro will still be in control of the channel from 5 AM to 5 PM, but the rest of the hours will be programmed by Discovery. Yesterday, I came across one of the promos for Discovery Family. Take a look:

That’s it? Just a bunch of educational science, nature and animal documentaries?? Color me underwhelmed. So let’s examine this, shall we? Going by the above promo, Discovery Family’s lineup will have no animated shows (except for the established Hasbro properties such My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Transformers Rescue Bots), no scripted shows and no movies. It’s almost as though Discovery wants this channel to fail. DiscFam is probably going to be an even bigger bomb than the XFL. Yeah, The Hub’s airing old sitcom reruns in prime time was a phenomenally stupid programming decision, but does Discovery honestly believe that they can gain a substantial following by running a bunch of educational documentaries and reality programs in their place? What kind of network that wants to attract kids doesn’t have any cartoons on it’s lineup? That’s just dumb! And yes, I know that live action shows are cheaper to produce than animated shows, but even if DiscFam brought back some of their old Discovery Kids shows in reruns, that would be better than having no cartoons on the lineup at all. After I first saw this promo, my initial thought for the future of Discovery Family was this:

I predict that this new schedule is going to go over like a lead balloon covered with fat people. Even the DiscFam logo looks dull, generic and uninspired. Admittedly, I kind of like the tagline “Let’s Go!”, but it’s wasted on this snooze fest of a lineup. It makes me wish that Hasbro had partnered with some other company to launch it’s family oriented family cable channel and Discovery wasn’t involved at all. This leads me to ponder what things may have been like had Hasbro hitched it’s wagon to another company besides Discovery. Here are a few choices. Before I start, I’m going to say that the Big 3 (Disney, Warner Brothers and Viacom) are already off of the table, since they already have active family oriented cable channels, so we don’t have to imagine what their family channels would be like. That said, to borrow DiscFam’s tagline, Let’s go!

HASBRO AND DREAMWORKS

Dreamworks wouldn’t want to do this, and they have no reason to do it, but imagine if Hasbro and DreamWorks had partnered up and launched a family oriented cable channel. Not only would said channel be able to air all of the movies from the Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda franchises as well as How To Train Your Dragon, but they’d also be able to air the DreamWorks series such as Monsters VS Aliens, Penguins of Madagascar, Dragons: Riders/Defenders of Berk, Kung-Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness and the upcoming animated series based on The Croods. Also Dreamworks currently owns the Classic Media library, which  includes the UPA TV catalogue, Harvey Entertainment, Big Idea Productions, Filmation and the license rights to Gumby, Voltron and the Jay Ward productions. This means that this hypothetical channel could also air reruns of Rocky & Bullwinkle and Felix the Cat, as well as any new adaptations of said projects.  Add to that My Little Pony:Friendship is Magic, Transformers and Littlest Pet Shop, and it sounds like a winner to me.

ADDENDUM: As it happens, a Hasbro/Dreamworks partnership almost happened, but Dreamworks’ president Jeffry Katzenberg wanted too much money and power, so Hasbro backed out of the deal. And the Greek chorus moans “More’s the pity.”

HASBRO AND 20TH CENTURY FOX

I know that FOX wouldn’t be interested in doing this, since their last attempt at a family friendly cable channel (Fox Family) didn’t end well and they already have a couple of cable channels under their belt, but it would be pretty cool if FOX had a showcase for their Fox Kids library of shows, as well as any new series that the studio would want to produce. Furthermore, there wouldn’t be the issue of what the channel would air at night after the kids have gone to bed, since this channel could air the FOX prime time shows and/or some of the FX or FXX programs. Plus, FOX owns The Simpsons lock, stock and barrel, so there wouldn’t be any issues if they wanted to air reruns of that on this channel.

HASBRO AND NBC/UNIVERSAL

I think that Hasbro and Universal would get along pretty well. Partnered with Universal, this hypothetical channel could air the likes of Woody Woodpecker and some of Universal Studios movies. Plus, Universal owns Qubo and Sprout. ‘ Nuff said.

HASBRO AND COOKIE JAR

Under this partnership, we would have a channel that had access to all of the Hasbro properties as well of all of the shows on Cookie Jar TV and KEWLopolis.

Honestly, any of these partnerships sounds better than what we’re getting. Now, it’s possible that Discovery may surprise us all by pulling something really special out of their collective sleeves, but I’m not counting on that. After seeing that Discovery Family promo and reading what Discovery’s master plan for the channel is, I have only this to say to all of them.

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10 Comments

  1. I agree that “Let's Go” is a cool tagline, pity the channel it's attached to sounds so unremarkable.

    Thing is, Discovery Family could have been a pretty decent channel if Discovery had made their portion of it more like the late Discovery Kids channel. Wait, here me out. Believe it or not, a lot of people enjoyed Discovery Kids and missed some of their shows fondly. Imagine if folks could watch My Little Pony, Transformers and Littlest Pet Shop alongside Time Warp Trio, Kenny the Shark and Tutenstein. Mornings could run Strawberry Shortcake: Berry Bitty Adventures, Care Bears: Welcome to Care-A-Lot with Hip-Hop Harry and Bindi the Jungle Girl. Grossology, The Future is Wild and Growing Up Creepie could air on afternoons, and Dinosapien and Flight 29 Down could air alongside Haunting Hour and Spooksville at night. The Hub Family Movies could be relegated to weekend evenings along with Family Game Night and the non-fiction documentary type shows could air late nights starting at 9 or 10 PM. Granted, that wouldn't be sensational, but it would definitely be better than what we're getting.

    Unfortunately, with Hasbro's influence greatly diminished and the toy company in talks with Cartoon Network about the possibility of farming out the Hasbro shows to them, coupled with the lackadaisical format and lackluster shows planned for DiscFam's lineup, it seems all too clear that neither Discovery nor Hasbro are truly interested in working together on this venture anymore, so for all intents and purposes it's….

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  2. Oh god, that promo's painful. So sappy and sentimental that I'm surprised, nay, relieved that American Authors song that is in every other commercial was playing. (Seriously, it's EVERYWHERE!!)

    And for Hasbro, honestly, I think they should go the Mattel route and do webseries. Monster High and the new Barbie series have been very popular, with toys selling like hotcakes, and Ever After High is going on Netflix. So if Hasbro can make webisodes on Littlest Pet Shop, My Little Pony, Transformers, G.I. Joe, Jem, or whatever the heck they're making, it's way better than a third party channel.

    I mean, when Dreamworks, and even Nickelodeon are making web series, maybe Hasbro should give it a shot.

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  3. Should we be surprised at all? Hmmmmm, wellllllll, of course not. DisFam might as well sell Hasbro's stake to Fox, since Fox controls the National Geographic channels, and their kids channel is similar in content and purpose to what DisFam is promising.

    It's already been reported that the next Transformers show will, in fact, mark the franchise's return to Cartoon Network. Maybe a new GI Joe will follow?

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  4. Yeah, I think it's a safe bet that the honeymoon between Discovery and Hasbro is over. Hasbro clearly wants out and Discovery just plain doesn't care anymore. If Hasbro decides to take “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” to another network, you can start playing Taps for DiscFam.

    ADDENDUM: Hasbro isn’t going to move “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” to another network. Where would they move it to? Cartoon Network? Yeah, because that worked out so well for “Transformers: Robots in Disguise”, right? Both Nickelodeon and Disney Channel are notorious for not treating their 3rd Party acquisitions very well. If Hasbro ever does decide to take MLP;FiM off of DiscFam, they’d most likely move the series to Netflix, since most of the Hasbro properties are already airing there, and MLP fans who don’t get DiscFam are already watching the episodes online anyway.

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  5. silverstar

    ADMIN NOTE: The following 3 comments were made in a more recent article, but they’re more relevant to this one, so I’m copying them here.

    Graham posted: I know this might seem unrelated, but since you guys don’t post at forums anymore, I thought I’d share with you some pretty damn big news that happened this week: Comcast acquired DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion. Do you think Jeff made a smart decision, or a stupid one?

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  6. silverstar

    Yours Truly posted: By all appearances, this move has the potential to be beneficial to both sides: Katzenberg has been trying to latch on to some big multimedia conglomerate for a while now, but each time he screwed the pooch by wanting too much money and power; he apparently learned his lesson and agreed to step down as CEO this time, though he’ll still have a seat amongst the senior executives.

    On Comcast’s end, they just want to compete head-on with Disney–they want to launch theme parks and all of that–but they need a strong and popular roster of marketable characters in order to do that, so Dreamworks could help fulfill that requirement. In addition to Shrek, Kung-Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, et al, Dreamworks also owns the Classic Media Library, which includes the Harvey Comics characters and Jay Ward productions.

    The ammo is there; how smart or successful this move is remains to be seen. Personally, I wouldn’t mind if Comcast/Dreamworks attempted to launch a kids and family channel. It could be like The Hub, only a success. A Dreamworks/Comcast backed channel would also have a much easier time finding sponsors, since neither is a toy company by trade; most toy companies refused to go near The Hub because it was co-owned by Hasbro and rival companies weren’t about to run their ads on a channel owned by one of their chief rivals. Lack of heavy sponsorship was just one of several things which ultimately led to The Hub’s downfall.

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  7. silverstar

    Goldstar posted: What Silverstar said. Whether or not Comcast and Dreamworks can play ball together remains to be seen. How smart or profitable a move this purchase will be depends on what Comcast plans to do with the Dreamworks library now that they have access to it. DW hasn’t had a hit movie in a while, and lately, the studio has just been riding on it’s past successes. Comcast wants to compete with Disney, and they must’ve bought Dreamworks in order to eliminate them as a competitor.

    A Comcast NBC/Universal/Dreamworks owned cable TV channel for kids and families might be a good idea. At least with the parties involved, there’d at least be a good amount of programming at their disposal. Perhaps Comcast and Dreamworks could succeed where The Hub failed. But unfortunately, the last time that Comcast purchased another cable network for it’s own gain (Comcast purchased Tech TV and merged it with G4 because they wanted “X-Play”), it didn’t end well.

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  8. Thanks for appropriately moving my comment. I didn’t know that this earlier post talked about potential mergers.

    Is it okay if I copy-paste your comments at the other forums that discuss this news? I think they might find them rather insightful.

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    • silverstar

      That’s fine with me, as long as we get an acknowledgment. If you can, give our site a plug too. Couldn’t hurt.

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  9. I just thought of something else. Universal Studios has a Shrek attraction and quite a few rides based on the Jay Ward characters. This acquisition could help them permanently secure the rights to those characters without having to continually renew their licenses–another bonus for this merger.

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