NBCUniversal Acquires Full Ownership of Kids' Channel Sprout

Bonnie Hammer Report - P 2013
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Bonnie Hammer Report - P 2013

The company bought 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, a company controlled by Apax Funds. 

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.

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“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 like Caillou and Sesame Street. The lineup also includes hosted programming blocks The Sunny Side Up Show and The Good Night Show.

This marks Hammer's latest move since taking sole control in February of NBCU's profitable cable suite. In September, she decided to pull the plug on the Style network to launch the male-targeted Esquire. (The original plans had Esquire replacing G4, but that was nixed just a few weeks before launch.) Other cable networks in NBCUniversal's portfolio include USA, Syfy, E!, Bravo and Oxygen.


, Style presents brand overlap within our portfolio," Bonnie Hammer noted in an internal memo explaining the surprise decision, which will result in layoffs and an employee reshuffling."]