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NBCU Acquires Full Ownership of Kids' Channel Sprout

NBCUniversal buys out its remaining partners, PBS and HIT Television Ventures.

The NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group has taken full ownership in kids' channel Sprout following a buyout of its remaining partners, PBS and HIT Television Ventures, according to a report by The Hollywood Reporter.

HIT Television Ventures is controlled by Apax Funds, which had a 30 percent stake of the kids cable channel, while PBS held 15 percent. The network -- which launched in 2005 as a joint venture among Comcast, PBS, Sesame Workshop and HIT Entertainment -- will now be 100 percent owned and integrated within the Cable Entertainment Group.

“We see enormous potential in Sprout, and we are committed to our investment in the kids and family arena,” said Bonnie Hammer, chairman of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. “This acquisition furthers our strategy to create and deliver the very best content across all of our audiences.”

Added Sprout president Sandy Wax: “Over the past eight years, Sprout has grown to become a leading preschool destination, reaching over 60 million homes and generating more than 1.5 billion on demand views. We are committed to creating the highest-quality series for our viewers, and the opportunity to help drive the company’s kids and family strategy will continue to fuel our content creation engine.”

The 24-hour network targets kids ages 2-5 and their caregivers with original programming, including The Chica Show and Noodle and Doodle, and a library of series such as Caillou and Sesame Street. 

The deal means Comcast Communications-owned NBCU now owns two children’s channels, having bought Cookie Jar Entertainment out of international channel KidsCo to take a controlling 51 percent stake.

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