Hasbro, Inc. and Discovery Communications announced that children’s entertainment veteran Margaret Loesch has been named President and CEO of the companies’ multi-platform joint venture. The yet-to-be-named network is expected to premiere in Fall 2010 reaching approximately 60 million U.S. households on what is currently Discovery Kids channel. Loesch will assume her new position on August 17th and will be based in Los Angeles.
The winner of multiple Emmy and other industry awards, Loesch has almost four decades of unparalleled success in children’s and family entertainment. Her extensive resume includes the development and production of such programs as SMURFS, MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS, JIM HENSON’S MUPPET BABIES, ANIMANIACS, TRANSFORMERS and the award-winning pre-school educational series BEAR IN THE BIG BLUE HOUSE, among many others.
As a chief executive, Loesch’s experience includes the launch and international expansion of Fox Kids Network, the creation of the U.S. Hallmark Channel, leadership of Marvel Comics’ film production arm, Marvel Productions, and, most recently, the co-founding of family media company, The Hatchery. She also serves on the board of trustees of Sesame Workshop, producers of educational children’s programs, including SESAME STREET, and is on the advisory board of the Coalition for Quality Children’s Media.
"Margaret is the perfect match for the network that Hasbro and Discovery are developing," said Brian Goldner, Hasbro’s President and CEO. "Her consistent track record of creating groundbreaking children’s programming and successfully launching new networks is a blueprint for what we want this joint venture to be. We look forward to working with Margaret, and the team she assembles, to build a powerful and immersive new destination for family entertainment that engages both children and parents alike."
"Margaret’s experience and accomplishments speak for themselves," said David Zaslav, President and CEO of Discovery Communications. "She has not only succeeded time and time again in the children’s and family entertainment space, but also she has demonstrated a true passion for the type of high-quality content that is at the heart of Hasbro’s and Discovery’s missions. Margaret has the creative vision and business acumen, as well as the values and dedication to high-quality entertainment and educational programming to lead this joint venture."
As President and CEO of the Hasbro-Discovery Communications joint venture, Loesch will oversee all business and creative areas of the rebranded television channel and multi-platform media venture. She will report to the joint venture’s board of directors, composed equally of representatives from Hasbro and Discovery.
"The opportunity to work with Hasbro and Discovery -- two companies that are synonymous with quality, values and success -- is the type of once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I could not resist," said Loesch. "Since I started in the children’s entertainment industry, I have believed there always is a yearning among viewers for high-quality, family-friendly entertainment filled with positive messages and built on strong and engaging brands, characters and stories. With Hasbro’s world-class brands and Discovery’s established distribution strength, we have the tools to address that yearning and create a network and programming that will entertain, inform and truly resonate with viewers."
During her extensive career in the children's and family entertainment industry, Loesch has held senior roles with a number of leading companies as both a creative and business executive. This includes tenures as: EVP of Hanna-Barbera Productions, where she oversaw the development and production of over 500 hours of programming, including RICHIE RICH, THE WORLD’S GREATEST SUPERFRIENDS and SMURFS; President and CEO of Marvel Productions, where she executive produced multiple hit series including TRANSFORMERS, G.I. JOE, DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS, and SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS, and oversaw a tenfold increase in revenue; and, President of Television, Worldwide of the Jim Henson Group, where she served as executive producer of BEAR IN THE BIG BLUE HOUSE. Loesch’s prior experience also includes work with ABC and NBC.
In 1990, Loesch became the founding President and CEO of Fox Kids Network, Worldwide, which expanded under her leadership into Latin America, Australia, and the United Kingdom. In 1998, she was named the first President and CEO of Crown Media United States and its U.S. Hallmark Channel.
Among Loesch’s industry awards are four Emmy Awards, a George Foster Peabody Award, a Vision Award, and the prestigious Chair Award from the Caucus for Television Producers, Writers, and Directors.
Announced in April 2009, the Hasbro-Discovery Communications joint venture 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.
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, planned for Fall 2010. Following the debut, Discovery Communications will retain the Discovery Kids brand for, among other things, its international networks and its licensing and merchandising business.