Comcast’s NBCUniversal says it has taken full control of Sprout, the 24-hour pay TV network for preschoolers that it had launched with PBS, Sesame Workshop and Hit Entertainment in 2005. The move follows a buyout of its remaining partners at PBS and HIT Television Ventures, a company controlled by Apax Funds.
NBCU had a 47% stake previously while remaining partners PBS had about 17% and Hit about 35%. Sesame Workshop had sold its stake prior to the announcement, said an AP/ABC News story.
Sprout will now be 100% owned and integrated within the NBCU Cable Entertainment Group as it deepens its commitment to building an overall kids and family entertainment strategy.
“We see enormous potential in Sprout, and we are committed to our investment in the kids and family arena,” said Bonnie Hammer, Chairman, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. “This acquisition furthers our strategy to create and deliver the very best content across all of our audiences.”
“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,” said Sandy Wax, President, Sprout. “We are committed to creating the highest quality original 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.”
Said the AP/ABC News story: “PBS’ brand will slowly be removed from the network, previously known as PBS Kids Sprout, over the next few months, although popular PBS programs such as “Sesame Street” and “Caillou” will still be shown. The 24-hour network reaches more than 60 million homes in the U.S. and competes with channels like Nick Jr. and Disney Junior.”