Rounding out this week’s look at the main US kids channels is newcomer, The Hub, which if it feels I’ve already covered it, you aren’t far wrong. I recently wrote a post on the channel’s biggest hit, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
The Hub is basicially a reincarnation of Discovery Kids and is a joint venture between Discovery Communications and toy maker, Hasbro. Interestingly enough, no content was carried over, so The Hub really is having to prove itself in the tough world of kids programming.
Surprisingly enough, it seems to have done quite well in the year and a bit it’s been around. Good quality content including MLP, Strawberry Shortcake and Transformers have helped there. Yup, they’re all toyetic, but are also much, much better than their former 1980s incarnations.
The only handicap is that Discovery Kids was carried on relatively few cable and satellite systems, and not at all on basic packages. The house I’m staying at has Time Warner Cable and it places the Hub waaaaay up in the 130s along with Disney XD and the other Nick channels. Having said that, word of the shows has gotten around and the channel has more than made its goals for the first year.
The Hub does seem to skew more towards girls and is the only channel out of all of them that makes this noticeable. In that respect, it can be seen as a bit of a balance to the boy-scentric channels like Disney XD. All a good thing in my opinion.
Admittedly enough, its surprising that someone would launch a new channel now, just as internet viewing is starting to really kick off. The Hub required a masive investment and while it will surely pay off for Discovery/Hasbro, one can’t help but wonder if it’s the last of a dying breed.
We’re unlikely to see a brand new kids channel launch again, and it remains to be seen whether or not kids are capable of utilising the internet for viewing. They seem to be able to work iPads fairly well, so perhaps the next big breakthrough will be a child-friendly interface for watching shows.
Overall, the Hub is OK. Yeah, the shows are good, and I’m dead happy for the likes of Lauren Faust and the gang of awesome artists she’s kept employed as a result. The only faults I could find is the proximity of the shows to established toys (although that it probably a given, seeing as who’s funding it all) and the fact that as a channel, it remains to be seen if it can follow up it’s initial hits with others.