The Hub Network was an American digital cable and satellite television channel that launched on Sunday, October 10, 2010 until its closure on Monday, October 13, 2014. The channel, which replaced Discovery Kids, is a joint venture of Discovery Communications, Inc. and Hasbro.
It targeted at preteens aged 6-11, in the daytime with children's programs, and families at night with sitcoms, dramas and feature films. While much of its programming consisted of acquired reruns of children's programming and sitcoms, it is also known for its original programs such as Transformers, Animal Mechanicals, Dan Vs., and most notably, Junior SQUAD And My Little Pony.
In September 2014, however, it was announced that Hasbro would end its partnership with Discovery Communications, and as a result, the Hub Network was replaced by Discovery Family on Monday October 13, 2014.
On April 30, 2009, toy manufacturer and media company Hasbro announced that it would be forming a joint venture with Discovery Communications to create a new, family-oriented television channel to replace Discovery's existing channel Discovery Kids. Under the arrangement, Discovery would be in charge of handling advertising sales and distribution for the new channel, while Hasbro would be involved in acquiring and producing programming. While the network planned to maintain educational series (including those carried over from Discovery Kids), plans called for new original programs based off Hasbro-owned franchises such as G.I. Joe, My Little Pony, Transformers, and game shows based upon its board games.
In January 2010, Discovery and Hasbro announced that the new network would be known as The Hub; two months later, the companies announced that The Hub would officially launch on October 10, 2010. The network planned to continue targeting Discovery Kids' main demographic of children aged 2 through 14 (a market which staff felt was being abandoned by its competitors, such as Nickelodeon and Disney Channel, in favor of tweens), but also planned to feature a primetime block with family-oriented programming. Veteran television executive, and the network's president and chief executive officer Margaret Loesch stated that The Hub's goal was to be "vibrant" and "diverse" in its programming, and that the channel would not purely be a marketing vehicle for Hasbro products. Some of The Hub's launch programming would include the game show Family Game Night, animated series Pound Puppies, Junior Squad, And My Little Pony and Transformers, reruns of the Jim Henson series Fraggle Rock, and the preschool-oriented programs Cosmic Quantum Ray and The WotWots.
The Hub officially launched and replaced Discovery Kids on October 11, 2010 at 10:00 AM Eastern/9:00 AM Central, with an episode of The Twisted Whiskers Show
In a June 2011 debt filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Discovery Communications indicated that the channel may be worth less than previously believed, based on low viewership figures. The management of The Hub subsequently underwent a fair value analysis of the channel. A Discovery Communications spokesperson considered the action to be "apro-forma accounting exercise", and noted that Discovery felt "very positive and encouraged by The Hub's early days' performance and ability to grow its audience in the future."
In March 2013, The Hub picked up its first work from POW! Entertainment, Stan Lee's Mighty 7, an animated pilot movie to be aired in early 2014. The network also began to phase in an amended branding as the Hub Network. In late 2013, Hub Network introduced an updated logo and a new imaging campaign, "Making Family Fun", which was developed by the Los Angeles-based agency Oishii Creative.
Relaunch as Discovery Family
On June 12, 2014, it was reported that Margaret Loesch would step down from her role as Hub Network president and CEO by the end of 2014.On September 17, 2014, The Wall Street Journal reported that Discovery Communications was preparing to acquire a controlling stake in Hub Network from Hasbro, and then re-brand it as Discovery Family. Hasbro staff, along with Discovery's CFO Andrew Warren, acknowledged that increasing competition in the children's media landscape—especially by subscription video-on-demand services such as Netflix, had an effect on the overall performance of the network and Hasbro's original content. As it was majority-owned by a competitor, other major toy companies such as Mattel refused to purchase advertising time on Hub Network, affecting its ability to air advertising that targeted its main audience; by 2014, the network had made only $9 million per year. Discovery staff was also unable to display a full commitment to Hub Network's operation, due to factors such as the troubled launch of the Oprah Winfrey Network. Believing that they had overvalued its stake in the venture, Hasbro decided to cede the operation of the network to Discovery so it could focus more on content and its core toy business.
Discovery and Hasbro publicly announced the planned re-branding on September 25, 2014; Hasbro's CEO Brian Goldner explained that Discovery Family would be the "next chapter" in its joint venture with Discovery, "[combining] highly rated award-winning storytelling around Hasbro's brands and Discovery's most popular non-fiction shows that appeal to both children and families alike." Hub Network was renamed Discovery Family on October 13, 2014—just over four years since the original launch of The Hub. With these changes, Discovery Communications now holds a 60% stake in the joint venture; Hasbro continues to hold a 40% stake in Discovery Family, and continues to program the network's daytime lineup with children's programming. Following the re-launch, the network's primetime lineup was replaced by reruns of family-oriented factual programming from Discovery Channel's library. Henry Schleiff, who leads sister networks such as Destination America and Investigation Discovery, leads the re-launched network, with Tom Cosgrove (who previously served as CEO of Discovery Channel and Science) as general manager.
In re-launching Hub Network, Discovery executives noted that there would be a larger emphasis on programming of interest to both children and their parents; Warren argued that since ABC Family had become, in his opinion, aimed towards teenage girls, there was a gap in the broadcasting industry for a new, family-oriented network. With these shifts in the network's operation, it was announced on October 7, 2014 to Transformers that had been scheduled to premiere on Hub Network, would instead air on Cartoon Network. Hasbro Studios president Stephen Davis felt that Cartoon Network was a more appropriate home for a Transformers series due to its male-oriented demographics, describing Hub Network's lineup as being "traditionally skewed towards girls".
Other recent Transformers animated series preceding the original launch of The Hub also aired on Cartoon Network. Despite this, Davis remarked that Hasbro was still "100% committed" to its joint venture with Discovery. Despite the move for Robots in Disguise, fellow Hub Network Transformers series Transformers: Rescue Bots would remain on Discovery Family for its third season.
The majority of the Hub Network's final programs were animated series and live-action game shows tied to media franchises owned by Hasbro itself, with newer series produced through the Hasbro Studios division, such as Pound Puppies, and Transformers. Its launch lineup also included Family Game Night, a game show which features adaptations of Hasbro's board games.
One of the network's most noteworthy original productions has been My Little Pony, an animated series based on Hasbro's My Little Pony toy franchise that has not only become its highest-rated program for the intended young girl demographic, but has also attracted an unexpectedly significant cult following among teens and adults.
A limited amount of original Discovery Kids programming, such as Endurance, remained on the lineup on launch.