Hasbro, Inc. and Discovery Communications announced an agreement to form a 50/50 joint venture, including a television network and website, dedicated to high-quality children's and family entertainment and educational programming. As part of the transaction, the joint venture also will receive a minority interest in the U.S. version of Hasbro.com.
Both the network and the venture's online component will feature content from Hasbro's rich portfolio of entertainment and educational properties built over the past 90 years, including original programming for animation, game shows, and live-action series and specials. New programming will be based on brands such as ROMPER ROOM, TRIVIAL PURSUIT, SCRABBLE, CRANIUM, MY LITTLE PONY, G.I. JOE, GAME OF LIFE, TONKA and TRANSFORMERS, among many others. The TV network and online presence also will include content from Discovery's extensive library of award-winning children's educational programming, such as BINDI THE JUNGLE GIRL, ENDURANCE, TUTENSTEIN, HI-5, FLIGHT 29 DOWN and PEEP AND THE BIG WIDE WORLD, as well as programming from third-party producers.
At the closing of the transaction, Hasbro will purchase a 50% stake in the venture, which will hold the assets related to Discovery Kids Network in the U.S., for which Discovery Communications will receive $300 million. The joint venture's rebranded network is expected to debut in late 2010 reaching approximately 60 million Nielsen households in the U.S. with programming geared to boys and girls 14 years of age and under. The joint venture also will participate in merchandising opportunities associated with on-air content. The closing of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions including satisfaction of all requirements of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.
Each company will have equal representation on a board of directors that will oversee a management team responsible for programming, scheduling and operations. The search for a President and General Manager for the network will begin immediately. Discovery Communications will handle advertising sales services, distribution, origination and other operational requirements for the proposed venture, while Hasbro will provide studio-produced programming.
Hasbro will also make a separate investment to establish a creative team that will allow Hasbro to create and produce the consumer-driven content children and families have come to expect from Hasbro's unmatched brands. Creative work will start in the next few months beginning with early stage development for properties including ROMPER ROOM, TONKA, G.I. JOE, TRANSFORMERS and MY LITTLE PONY. The creative team will have the capability to produce animated, live-action, and game show programming as well as content designed for digital and mobile extensions.
Programming on the network will be designed to entertain and educate, echoing the popularity and appeal of Hasbro's portfolio of brands and Discovery's long-standing commitment to life-long learning with the goal of making our emerging networks more valuable to affiliates and more compelling for viewers. In the tradition of Discovery Kids, this will include a number of daily hours voluntarily devoted to educational/informative content.
The network will continue to operate as Discovery Kids until the debut of the to-be-named channel and new programming slate. Discovery Communications will retain the Discovery Kids brand for, among other things, its international networks and its licensing and merchandising business.