Jul 3, 2019
The Hub and TV Guide Network are about to die… and be reborn
Two cable networks are changing their names and their programming focus—kind of.
If you’re a big fan of The Hub, you’re probably Kaleb’s little brother, because almost no one else watches the damn thing. The channel averages only 100,000 viewers a day, meaning they could all fit inside the Dallas Cowboys’ home stadium and watch it on the Jumbotron together in one place.
“Launched in 2010 with a $300 investment from Hasbro for half of the network, the Hub was designed to be an outlet for some of Hasbro’s best-known toy brands, including G.I. Joe, Transformers and My Little Pony,” says Wall Street Journal. I think I see the problem… Perhaps if they had more than $600 to start with, they might have had a little more success.
No, of course that’s a typo and the network started out with $300 million from Hasbro and $300 million from Discovery Channel owners Discovery Communications. It’s not the worst idea for “synergy” since Hasbro has had all sorts of success with toy-based cartoons for nearly 40 years now. But dreams that The Hub might rival the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon for viewers in the under-12 demo proved short-lived. (Both of those networks command a million viewers a day.) And Hasbro and The Hub executives quickly found themselves at odds over shows that sold ads vs. shows that moved toys.
So now we’re looking at the launch of a new cable channel… Discovery Family.
The idea is to compete with ABC Family. Discovery Communications believes there’s plenty more room in the market for shows that aren’t strictly for adults or children but suitable to watch together. But not everything is changing. Hasbro will still have its fingerprints all over the new channel’s daytime programming, running The Hub-style shows from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. every day.
TV Guide Network (TVGN)
The idea of a channel dedicated to a scrolling programming guide has long since been obsolete, and by the end of 2012, 83% of cable providers were carrying a cropped version of TV Guide Network without the scroll at all. The network’s name was also obsolete by then since the connection to TV Guide magazine had been severed in 2008. So a makeover was overdue.
It started out timidly. In January 2013, the network started calling itself TVGN and airing same-week repeats of CBS soap and reality show programming (CBS owns 50%). Reruns of Weeds and Curb Your Enthusiasm helped as well, and ratings gradually tiptoed up to their highest in five years.
That’s all the encouragement the network needed to announce a major revamp. In 2015, the network will become… POP.
The announcement came in one of the shittiest press releases ever written:
Leslie Moonves, President and CEO of CBS Corporation, and Jon Feltheimer, CEO of Lionsgate, said, “POP is an exciting new chapter for a cable network that has made great progress and generated significant ratings momentum over the past year. Our new brand not only positions the channel for continued growth, but reflects its identity, focus and fan base.”
Really? Did they recite it together like the Lord’s Prayer? Or maybe they sang in a round like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” with Moonves starting first and Feltheimer repeating the same thing half a stanza later.
In theory, the network celebrates fandom. That’s an intriguing idea. Along those lines, two of the new net’s new shows will be Rock This Boat: New Kids on the Block, a reality show not about the band itself but a bunch of diehard fans, and The Story Behind, a loving behind-the-scenes retrospective of old hit TV shows.
Seems kind of VH-1-ish. I’ll let you decide if that’s a good or a bad thing.