NBCUniversal Acquires Full Ownership Of Kiddie-Cabler Sprout

NBCU expands its reach to kids with increased stake in TV net for preschool set

NBCUniversal has purchased full ownership in Sprout, the preschool-focused entertainment network that had been jointly controlled by NBCU, PBS and HIT Television Ventures, a company controlled by Apax Funds.

“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, the unit in which Sprout will be housed, in a prepared statement.  “This acquisition furthers our strategy to create and deliver the very best content across all of our audiences.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Sprout  reaches more than 60 million homes, Sprout President Sandy Wax said in a statement.

Sprout was started in 2005 as part of an effort to reach kids between the ages of 2 and 5, as well as the people who care for them. Its programming is structured to reflect a child’s activities throughout the day, whether it be getting dressed in the morning or going to sleep at night. The network runs PBS kids’ classics including “Sesame Street” and “Caillou” sa well as original series such as “The Chica Show” and programming acquired exclusively for a U.S. run, such as “Lazytown.”

Hammer has recently been refining the networks under her aegis. In September, she decided to end the Style network, the theory being that the outlet was not distinctive enough from other female-focused networks including Bravo and Oxygen.

By canceling Style, Hammer was able to give Esquire wider distribution when it launched several weeks ago and keep G4, a network aimed at young men, extant. The purchase of Sprout would give NBCU full say over a network whose audience would be largely complimentary to those reached by other networks it owns.

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