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Hub Network Is About To Re-Brand To Discovery Family, My Thoughts On This


This week, we learned that one of Geek Alabama’s many media contacts is about to ride into the sunset on a back of a colorful pony from Equestria.  This week, Discovery Communications have announced that they are taking over the struggling Hub Network, which is jointly owned by Hasbro and Discovery.  Sometime over the next few months, Hub Network will become Discovery Family, and will most likely have a logo like this one below, instead of familia it will be family.

Hub Network launched replacing Discovery Kids in October 2010, and Discovery Kids was pretty much on a loop and replaying old programs over and over again.  When Hasbro bought half the channel space, they were going to be responsible for programming, while Discovery runs the TV aspect of the channel.  Hasbro hired  Margaret Loesch, who ran the popular Fox Kids block in the 1990’s, which I loved.  Hub Network’s early mission after watching their first shows was to not dumb down kids and provide shows that kids would enjoy watching, and they might learn something.

The network launched with mostly original and acquired programming, with some classic Discovery Kids shows mixed in.  With Discovery Kids being in an endless loop, the network needed a new library of shows.  Original shows like My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Family Game Night, Pound Puppies, The Twisted Whiskers Show, Dennis and Gnasher, and others were good shows, but most of them failed to attract an audience, except for MLP:FIM of course.  The network made their primetime lineup with all classic sitcoms and dramas, and I think that was a big mistake!

I mean, most people have seen Happy Days, Batman, Doogie Howser, Wonder Years, and other classic shows.  Soon, Hub Network acquired even more classic sitcoms like Alf, Lois & Clark, Hercules, Sliders, and others.  For the rest of their primetime lineup, they relied on an older movie every night.  Yeah, Hub Network tweaked the schedule by adding the sitcom Blossom, and adding more mature movies like Spaceballs, but here is something every network you see on TV needs, original programming in primetime, when the most people are watching!

Hub Network did try some original shows in the primetime slot.  But most shows have not lasted.  They ran a really good Clue mini-series that should have been a full series.  They got the UK series Wizards vs. Aliens, that was soon quickly pulled off the channel for some reason.  The Haunting Hour has done well on the channel, even though its future is uncertain after the re-brand.  And other originals like Spooksville, The Aquabats Super Show, Dan Vs., Transformers Prime, G.I. Joe Renegades, and others have come and gone.  I felt like Hub Network did a poor job scheduling shows like Dan Vs. and Spooksville.  Seriously, who watches a new episode on Saturday afternoon, when people are out doing things?

Hub Network acquired a lot of shows from the 1990’s like Tiny Toon Adventures,  Animaniacs, Batman Beyond, Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, and other classic cartoons.  Even though the people liked watching the classic cartoons, there’s one problem.  Soon, the nostalgia factor wears off, and people quit watching the classic cartoons.  Other than the classic cartoons during the daytime, you mostly saw many repeats of MLP:FIM, which has become a pop culture phenomenon.  If one channel can only rely on a show about colorful ponies learning the lessons of friendship to deliver ratings, so advertisers can pay money, you have a problem.

Hub Network also tried some major events like the Halloween Bash, and Bark Week.  But all major events on the channel have not brought in the ratings.  And ratings is everything in the TV business.  Hub Network did find some success in the daytime lineup, but the primetime lineup fell flat, and the channel was hemorrhaging money.  Hub Network has been the worst performing network in Discovery Communication’s family of channels.  And Discovery finally had enough, so here they come for a rescue, of sorts.

Hasbro will still control most of the daytime lineup, getting to program the 8 am – 2 pm Central lineup every day.  The rest of the schedule will be programmed by Discovery.  At first, programming will consist of science and nature programming from other Discovery Networks.  Shows with a TV-PG or TV-G rating will most likely be seen on Discovery Family, like Cake Boss, Mythbusters, 19 Kids and Counting, and others.  The problem is Discovery does not have many “family type” shows they could put on the channel, at first.  What many people are concerned about the re-branded channel, is if the channel will become another reality show dumping ground.  And will Discovery try to re-air some of those very old Discovery Kids shows, that are too old today.

Discovery has had some great success repurposing other channels like the Oprah Winfrey Network, Velocity, and Destination America.  But on those channels, you can show just about anything you want.  To keep Hub Network/Discovery Family on those family tiers on the cable and satellite systems, they can’t air anything above TV-PG.  So, I am afraid you are going to see a few shows, with a lot of repeats at first.  And if Discovery is thinking about letting Hasbro take their shows to other networks like Cartoon Network or Disney, think again!

Discovery, you need My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Littlest Pet Shop, Transformers: Robots In Disguise, Transformers: Rescue Bots, Family Game Night, and other popular Hub Network shows to help the new Discovery Family.  If Hasbro takes their more popular shows to another network, Discovery Family is going to fall flat, and fast!  So Discovery, I would play nice with Hasbro.  Let Hasbro run a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic marathon starting very early on Saturday morning when season five premieres.  Heck, let Hasbro do a live show talking about MLP:FIM after the season premiere.  If Discovery can do live shows after Naked and Afraid, and Shark Week, and after the premiere of Doctor Who, which Discovery owns a stake in BBC America, I would do something big to promote Discovery Family.

Discovery CEO David Zaslav has called Hub Network “beachfront real estate.”  And the new Discovery Family will be managed by Discovery group president Henry Schleiff, who already oversees Investigation Discovery, Destination America, American Heroes Channel, and Discovery Fit & Health.  For now, I have little confidence that Discovery Family will succeed.  Hub Network struggled because you Discovery failed to promote the network.  I rarely saw commercials for Hub Network on Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, or your other networks.  And you often cross promote shows on other networks on your channels.  And as for web ads, print promotions, and other ways of marketing, I barely saw it!  If Discovery promoted Hub Network more, this situation might not be happening right now!

Hub Network was not in many homes because it was a digital tier channel.  Meaning some subscribers had to pay extra to get the channel.  If other networks like Disney and Turner can cross promote their shows, like a Disney Channel show airing on DisneyXD, or a Cartoon Network show airing on TBS, for example.  Discovery could have shown My Little Pony on Animal Planet, with plenty of Hub Network promotions!  I wonder if Discovery will try this now with Discovery Family?

And Hub Network had some struggles with their scheduling.  I would have done some original shows several nights a week during primetime.  It would have been great to see a primetime lineup one night a week consisting of Dan Vs., Spooksvile, The Aquabats Super Show, and The Haunting Hour, but these shows were all mostly scheduled for Saturday afternoon, usually a time where shows go to die.  Discovery thinks they can run a “family” type network.  Discovery’s CFO Andrew Warren acknowledged that increasing competition in the children’s media landscape—especially by subscription video-on-demand services, had an effect on the overall performance of the network. In re-launching Hub Network, there will be a larger emphasis on programming of interest to both children and their parents.  I hope so!

Today, reuns and shows based on nostalgia will not cut it.  Cutting popular shows for “cost efficient” shows will also not cut it.  Lots of people are afraid that Discovery Family will become the next TLC, which has shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, which my mother hates.  If Discovery thinks that they can turn Discovery Family into another network about Amish lawbreakers, crab “nuts” fisherman, and people who go all in for little gold, think again!  I am going to give Discovery an example of a show I would like to see on Discovery Family.  I would like to see a show that is smart, a show where kids might learn something, and a show kids and adults can watch together.  There’s a show like that on YouTube already called SmarterEveryDay, based here in Alabama!  If a video like this one below can get close to 14 million views, a 30 minute show like this would work!

So at the end, I am sad to see Hub Network go.  I am glad that Margaret Loesch and Hub Network gave us four years of good stuff!  I am sure Geek Alabama will still be media partners with Hasbro and Discovery Communications.  And I am sure I will be talking about shows coming soon to Hub Network and Discovery Family.  Look for a post about the upcoming season premiere of R.L. Stine: The Haunting Hour very soon!  And Discovery, us here at Geek Alabama would like to be considered to be a part of Discovery Family too!  We could help to make a good TV show!

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