Discovery, Hasbro Modify Hub Partnership

Sources confirmed reports that Discovery Communications and toy maker Hasbro are modifying their four-year partnership in The Hub kids’ channel, with Discovery taking a controlling interest in the network and renaming the channel Discovery Family to include programming for parents as well as kids.

News that Discovery and Hasbro were ending their partnership was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Discovery launched the Hub in 2010. The Hub, which linked programming from Discovery Kids channel like Adventure Camp and Flight 29 Down with Hasbro properties like Transformers and My Little Pony, was supposed to be the perfect marriage between commerce and entertainment. But the network, which competed against kids’ programming juggernauts Nickelodeon and The Disney Channel, never was able to carve out a proper niche. And it came under fire early on because of its close association with a toymaker and for what some critics called violent programming.

A spokeswoman for the Hub declined to comment.

Signs that the channel was under pressure surfaced in June, when Hub president Margaret Loesch, who had steered the network form its inception, said she would step down by the end of the year, and no replacement was named. Sources confirmed the Journal report that Discovery group president Henry Schleiff, who already oversees Investigation Discovery, Destination America, American Heroes Channel and Discovery Fit & Health, will add oversight of Discovery Family. According to those same sources, Hasbro will still own a piece of the network and will contribute programming to the channel in the mornings. The evenings will be filled at least initially with science and nature programming from other Discovery Networks.

Discovery has made a business out of repurposing channels and with 70 million homes, The Hub is what Discovery CEO David Zaslav has called “beachfront real estate.”  The programmer has had success in the past converting Discovery Health into the Oprah Winfrey Network,Planet Green into Destination America and The Military Channel into American Heroes Channel.