Margaret Loesch has been named president and CEO of the upcoming Discovery Communications-Hasbro kids channel. The new network, first announced in April 2009, will take over the space currently occupied by Discovery Kids in fall 2010.
Loesch has a long history of developing children's programming, including stints as president and CEO of Marvel Productions (GI Joe, Transformers, Spider Man), executive VP at Hanna-Barbera Productions (Richie Rich, The Smurfs) and president of television, worldwide, at the Jim Henson Group. She was also the first president and CEO of Crown Media U.S. and The Hallmark Channel, and sits on the board of trustees at Sesame Workshop, which produces Sesame Street.
"Margaret's experience and accomplishments speak for themselves," said David Zaslav, President and CEO of Discovery Communications. "She has not only succeeded time and time again in the children's and family entertainment space, but also she has demonstrated a true passion for the type of high-quality content that is at the heart of Hasbro's and Discovery's missions. Margaret has the creative vision and business acumen, as well as the values and dedication to high-quality entertainment and educational programming to lead this joint venture."
Loesch, will be based out of Los Angeles starting August 17, and will report to the JV's board of directors, composed equally of representatives from Discovery and Hasbro.
Loesch tells B&C her first order of business is to assess the brands owned by Discovery Kids and Hasbro to determine which ones would make the transition to the network.
Part of that challenge is to determine what would attract not just kids, but tweens, which she says will be a key demographic for the new channel.
"To include tweens is the right idea, there is a lot of opportunity to serve that market," she says.
With the Web becoming more and more a part of kids' everyday lives, Loesch says that a heavy focus will be placed on creating an extensive digital strategy for the network.
"The net will be a channel itself, it has to compliment what we are doing on TV, but still be something different in order to satisfy the audience," she says. "Our competition has had the luxury of first building channels and then adding the internet component later on. We don't have that luxury, we have to hit ground running with a broad strategy that both builds our presence on the web and on the air."