Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Hub (2010-2014)

I didn't know about this until I ran across a posting by Silverstar over at Twin Factor the other day. After 4 years of trying to run with the big boys of children's television, The Hub Network, otherwise known simply as The Hub, is being rebooted yet again.

Again, you say? Yes. After all, The Hub rose from the ashes of the Discovery Kids channel after Hasbro bought a significant stake in the network, and subsequently opened a studio so they could revive some of their previously animated properties.

But, therein lies the problem. Like the networks they wanted to compete with, namely Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, & Cartoon Network, not to mention each channel's sister stations, The Hub fell into the pattern of plugging every available hole in the schedule with the hottest property they have, namely, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, despite a deep vault of other shows, including the entire DK library that could've been kept on the air to fill time. Instead, shows like The Future Is Wild & Grossology were phased out after a few weeks on The Hub. You'll recall that the other networks have made that same mistake by overplaying their golden geese (i.e. Scooby-Doo, Phineas & Ferb, etc.), but also learned to diversify their product, for better or worse.

The Hub's idea of diversification was to copy Nick at Nite and fill primetime with classic, family-friendly sitcoms, such as, most recently, Blossom. Discovery Communications, which is taking back full control next month, is rebranding the network as----wait for it---Discovery Family. Not exactly original, I know, but their idea of prime-time programming figures to be mostly documentaries, also aimed at families. Like, I wouldn't mind if they could persuade Disney to lease out those "True Life Adventure" documentaries that were in theatres back in the day, and haven't seen the light of day on DC in seemingly forever, or even The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, but the kiddo's will be bored to tears and will be fleeing to the other channels.

What seemingly sealed the deal was the decision made by programming head Margaret Loesch to step down at the end of the month. Loesch, whose resume includes stops at Marvel and Hanna-Barbera in the 80's, would be a good fit at CN if they didn't already have someone in place to take over for Stuart Snyder, who left at the end of March. While Friendship is Magic and other Hasbro toons will continue, as Hasbro will program a significant chunk of daytime programming, the ratings will suffer once the new programming schematic kicks in on October 13.

It was not that long ago that I had declared that The Hub was better than Cartoon Network. The diff, however, is that Hub wasn't reaching as many homes as CN, Nick, and/or Disney combined. That and ratings fatigue from overplaying My Little Pony into the ground would be enough to write fini.

Toon fans have to hope, though, that Discovery will bring back their own line of toons, like the shows mentioned above and Tutenstein, the latter in time for Halloween. If they don't, then they're wasting everyone's time.


magicdog said...

I read Twinsanity's blog and I can't help but agree with his assessment.

I really thought Margaret Loesch, of all people had what it took to make The Hub work.

Silverstar said...

A fellow TZer uploaded an image of Discovery Family's new logo today. Blah.

I don't blame Discovery for stepping in trying to save face, but my biggest misgiving about their taking over and the format that they seem to going with is that it's going to be mostly edutainment/real-life documentary/reality type stuff. An edutainment channel where kids can learn about science, nature animals and stuff isn't in and of itself a bad thing by any means ("It's great to learn--'cause KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!" after all) but DiscFam's programming just seems like it will be, well, boring. Despite Hasbro's many missteps when they were at the wheel, at the end of the day The Hub was still a fun channel that kids and families could watch and enjoy together. Discovery Family based on what I've been reading about it just seems like a bland educrap dump. Not much fun. And I agree that the better Discovery Kids shows didn't have to be shelved; they could have been used as filler during The Hub's reign. I kind of hope that'll be the case with DiscFam. If DiscFam doesn't offer anything that kids will find fun to watch, then this channel's as good as DOA.

hobbyfan said...

DisFam figures to maximize the FCC E/I regs, at the same time sacrificing ratings points, because after a full day of school, kids won't want any further educating. That's why so many of us have objected to the E/I mandates in the first place. All that did was start the migration of children's programming and their target demo to cable from broadcast television.

Given that Hasbro will still be able to program a good chunk of the daytime schedule, we'll still get an excess of My Little Pony, but it should be balanced out with other shows. I just wonder what the Saturday schedule will look like. Would DisFam dump Sabrina, after a disappointing 1st year?