September 8, 2010 / 10:25 PM / 8 years ago

Discovery, Hasbro ready Hub network for launch

* The Hub targets children 6-11 years old

* Network will be run by children’s TV veteran Loesch

* Will feature reduced advertising load

By Yinka Adegoke

NEW YORK, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Discovery Communications (DISCA.O) and toy maker Hasbro Inc HAS.N said on Wednesday their new joint-venture cable network The Hub, to launch next month, would target an under-served market of children aged 11 and younger.

The two companies said the channel, which will replace Discovery Kids in 60 million cable and satellite homes, will fill a gap between children’s networks featuring preschool-age programming and shows for older children in the 11-to-14 range.

“There’s a space in this market and we’re going to hit it hard,” said Discovery Chief Executive David Zaslav. Executives said the new network will focus on children aged 6 to 11.

The Hub, which will be run by children’s TV veteran Margaret Loesch, will be taking advantage of branded entertainment from its parent companies. At a preview event The Hub ran clips of shows that feature Hasbro toy brands like Transformers and GI Joe.

Loesch ran Fox Broadcasting’s kids programming unit during its heyday of “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” and “X-Men.”

She said the new channel will broadcast fewer minutes of hourly advertising than the limits set by the Federal Communications Commission.

But with so many of the shows associated with popular brands that are toys or have become toy merchandise, the station faces perceptions in some quarters that some of the content in its shows is advertising.

Executives from Discovery, Hasbro and The Hub disputed this claim, saying the channel would not be significantly different from rivals that are not always perceived in that way.

Hasbro Chief Executive Brian Goldner said rival children’s cable network owner Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) is the third-largest toy maker in the world while Viacom Inc’s VIAb.N Nickelodeon is the fifth-largest.

“Almost every show on television is branded,” said Loesch.

The Hub, will launch on Oct. 10 and is born of a joint venture between Hasbro and Discovery that also includes a separate Hasbro Studios to produce programming.

Discovery will also be launching another joint venture with Oprah Winfrey in January called the Oprah Winfrey Network. (Reporting by Yinka Adegoke, editing by Matthew Lewis)

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