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2-Year-Old BabyFirst Is Coming of Age

BabyFirst is up and walking two years after its debut, getting closer to 50 million viewers with entertainment- based content geared for babies and toddlers.

“BabyFirst is the best-kept secret in the industry,” Sharon Rechter, executive vice president of business development and marketing for the network, said. It launched June 2012 as one of four independent, minority-owned networks selected for broad distribution by Comcast as part of the Federal Communications Commission-imposed conditions for the cable company’s acquisition of NBCUniversal.

BabyFirst is currently in more than 40 million homes, and Rechter hopes to reach the 50 millionsubscriber mark by end of the year. She said the network is watched by one out of every three moms with a baby 2 years old or younger. Also, viewers are watching the network for an average of 94 minutes per sitting, more than any other preschool network, according to Kantar Research.

“I think we’re beyond our expectations for the network,” Rechter said. “We’re very happy with where we are now.”

The network is also working with distributors to offer an interactive, second-screen way for kids and their parents to access BabyFirst games and other interactive media that can be customized for each distributor. Rechter said AT&T U-verse TV has already launched the app, with toddlers and their parents using it to post drawings to the TV screen.

While the network is English-language, the network has reached out to the Hispanic community with the launch of several Latino-themed shows that have appeal across all ethnic groups, including the Emmy-winning series Atencion, Atencion.

To further appeal to Latino audiences, Comcast recently launched a dedicated Spanish-language version of BabyFirst as part of its Latino package to complement its English-language channel.

In early 2015, Rechter said the network will develop “wholesome” programming targeted directly at moms in an effort to keep mothers engaged with the channel after the babies have been put to bed.

As for Comcast’s involvement in the network, Rechter said the MSO has provided more support in terms of distribution and marketing than was initially expected initially.

“For a network like ours, Comcast was a lifesaver,” she said.

Representatives from Comcast could not be reached for comment at press time about BabyFirst.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.