Tornante Co. nabs startup

Former Walt Disney Co. chairman-CEO Michael Eisner’s investment vehicle the Tornante Co. has acquired Team Baby Entertainment, a Houston-based startup that produces DVDs based on college sports teams for the infant and toddler market.

Tornante’s first target for investment was Internet content distributor Veoh Networks.

“Tornante’s acquisition of Team Baby Entertainment allows us to participate in the production of high-quality entertainment for a niche audience in a very original way,” said Eisner, under whom Disney acquired the Baby Einstein Co.

Greg Scheinman, who will remain CEO of Team Baby, founded the company 14 months ago. On each program, official licensed sports footage from a specific university is interspersed with clips of campus attractions. Also included, playing with products related to the school, are “team babies.”

Scheinman said the deal was made after Tornante’s Andy Redman read an article about Team Baby in the Los Angeles Times.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Scheinman said the agreement calls for an expansion of the product line to include more college teams and development of a series with professional sports teams. Plans call for at least 10 more college titles, including a DVD on the much-requested Penn State Nittany Lions and possibly programs on Ohio State and USC.

The line currently consists of 20 titles — including “Baby Irish” (Notre Dame), “Baby Longhorn” (U. of Texas) and “Baby Wolverine” (U. of Michigan) — which are sold on Teambabyentertainment.com and at fan stores and university bookstores.

Although the titles are self-distributed, that could change after alternatives are assessed under Eisner’s ownership. “Our goal is to be a national company with regional products,” Scheinman said.

Eisner has formed an advisory board for the company that includes Dr. Michael Spagna of the Michael D. Eisner College of Education at Cal State Northridge and others in the fields of pediatrics, education and nutrition.

Team Baby’s first 13 titles sold 35,000 units in the first eight months, Scheinman said.

Each DVD runs 35 minutes and is priced at $19.95.

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