|Launched||September 9, 2006
January 8, 2007 (channel)
|Closed||June 30, 2012
July 1, 2012 (Telemundo block)
|Owned by||Ion Media Networks|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)|
|Slogan||Where Good Fun Begins!|
|Broadcast area||National (but not available in all localities)|
|Headquarters||West Palm Beach, Florida|
|Formerly called||Smart Place for Kids|
|Sister channel(s)||Ion Television
|digital television||varies; usually on the second digital subchannel of Ion TV stations|
|Dish Network||Channel 217 (6 a.m.-3 p.m.)
|DirecTV||Channel 306 (6 a.m.-3 p.m.)|
|C-Band||SES-3 - 4160 H, 26681, 3/4, FTA, DVB-S|
|Available on selected cable systems.||Check local listings for channels|
|Verizon FiOS||Channel 491|
|Sky Angel||Channel 307|
|AT&T U-verse||Channel 328|
Qubo (// KEW-boh stylized as "qubo") is an American multiplatform entertainment service operating as a digital broadcast and pay television channel, video on demand service and the name for block of children's programming on Ion Television. It is wholly owned by Ion Media Networks.
The name "Qubo" was chosen for the platform due to its "fun" sound and marketability in both English and Spanish.
In May 2006, Ion Media Networks, NBC Universal (who, at the time, also owned a 32% stake in Ion), Corus Entertainment, Scholastic Corporation, and Classic Media announced plans to launch a new, multi-platform children's entertainment brand known as Qubo, oriented towards providing "educational, values-oriented programming" targeted towards children between 4 to 8 years of age. The brand would encompass blocks of television programming, a video on demand service, a website, along with a planned 24-hour network to be carried by cable and satellite providers, and over-the-air via digital subchannels. Qubo launched on September 9, 2006 with the premiere of its Saturday morning blocks on NBC (English) and Telemundo (Spanish), with a block on i Network following on Friday afternoons beginning September 15. On NBC, the Qubo block replaced Discovery Kids on NBC—a Saturday morning block which was programmed by the cable network Discovery Kids. Its launch programming included the new series Dragon (produced by Scholastic) and Jane and the Dragon (produced by Corus subsidiary Nelvana), along with 3-2-1 Penguins, VeggieTales and LarryBoy Adventures (produced by Classic Media subsidiary Big Idea)—marking the first time that VeggieTales had ever been carried as a television program.
Qubo president Rick Rodriquez, formerly of Discovery Communications, explained that Qubo would be a bilingual brand, offering programming in both the English and Spanish languages. While Qubo would initially carry Spanish-language dubs of its programming for Telemundo, Rodriquez did not rule out the possibility of developing children's programming tailored to Hispanic audiences through Qubo in the future. He noted that the market for Spanish-language children's programming had been underserved by existing outlets (such as Telemundo and Univision), and also envisioned the possibility of programming which could "bridge the gap" and educate children. Rodriquez also explained that the Qubo brand was intended to represent a "building block for kids"—as reflected by its logo. Rodriquez remarked that the name also worked well in both English and Spanish-language marketing.
Initially, religious content was edited out of the original VeggieTales broadcasts by request of NBC's standards and practices department. The removal drew criticism from the conservative watchdog group Parents Television Council, which complained to NBC. NBC replied that the editing conformed to the network's broadcast standards "not to advocate any one religious point of view." VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer also expressed discontent with the edits, stating that he was not informed that religious content would be removed from the series, and he would have refused to sign a contract if he had known of this beforehand. Vischer said, "I would have declined partly because I knew a lot of fans would feel like it was a sellout or it was done for money." Still, Vischer added that he understood NBC's wish to remain religiously neutral, and said, "VeggieTales is religious, NBC is not. I want to focus people more on 'Isn't it cool that Bob and Larry are on television?'"
In December 2006, a Spanish language website was launched for Qubo. On January 8, 2007, ION launched Qubo as a digital subchannel network of its station group plus seeking carriage via cable, satellite and telecom distribution outlets in other markets. Qubo’s digital channel initially launched with a rolling four-hour block of children's programming. In May, NBC Universal sold its minority stake in Ion Media Networks to Citadel. On December 3, 2007, Qubo expanded its offerings on the digital channel to include shows from other producers, as well as some programming currently seen on the main Qubo blocks on ION. In addition, the repeating schedule was expanded to a six-hour block, seen four times each day.
In January 2008, Ion Media Networks and Comcast reached an agreement to continue carrying Ion's digital channels, including Qubo and Ion Life. In 2009, ION began seeking the inquiry of the Federal Communications Commission for must-carry cable and satellite carriage of Qubo. Ion signed Qubo carriage agreements in May 2010 with Advanced Cable Communications, Comcast Colorado Springs and Blue Ridge Cable. In August 2008, Qubo introduced guidelines for advertisers in an effort to help combat childhood obesity, committing to only accept advertising for products which meet nutritional guidelines developed by the network in collaboration with childhood obesity expert Goutham Rao. Qubo also began to air a series of public service announcements featuring characters from its programs in collaboration with the Ad Council, United States Olympic Committee, and the Department of Health and Human Services, advocating exercise and healthy living. On September 28, 2010, the Qubo Channel launched Night Owl, a new late-night block featuring classic animated series.
With the acquisition of NBC Universal by Comcast, it was announced on March 28, 2012 that NBC would drop Qubo and replace it with NBC Kids—which would be programmed by the Comcast-owned cable network Sprout—on July 7, 2012. At the time, Sprout was a competing joint venture between Comcast, HIT Entertainment, PBS and Sesame Workshop; as of November 2013, NBCUniversal is now the sole owner of the network.
- "Qubo's Rodriguez: Offering a 'Building Block' to Kids". Retrieved 2008-02-16.
- "ION Media Networks, Citadel, and NBC Universal Reach Agreement to recapitalize ION -- ION expected to become privately held following transaction". Reuters. May 4, 2007. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
- Clemens, Luis. "Qubo’s Rodriguez: Offering a 'Building Block’ to Kids". Multichannel News. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
- Robertson, Ed (August 24, 2006). "Qubo, for English- and Spanish-speaking youngsters". medialifemagazine.com. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
- Hampp, Andrew (August 24, 2006). "NBC Debuts Kids Programming Brand Qubo". Ad Age. Retrieved February 14, 2014.
- "QUBO TO LAUNCH ON NBC, TELEMUNDO AND THE I NETWORK THIS SEPTEMBER". ION Media Network. Retrieved August 23, 2006.
- Cohen, Sandy Talking Veggies Stir Controversy at NBC, Associated Press, Foxnews.com, September 22, 2006
- Goetzl, David (January 9, 2007). "Hola!: Qubo Launches 24/7 Kids Channel". Media Post. Retrieved February 14, 2014.
- "qubo Launches as 24-Hour Digital Broadcast Channel on ION Media Networks Station Group".
- ION Media Networks and Comcast Announce Affiliation Agreement for Channel Suite, Yahoo!, January 14, 2008
- ION Media Plugs In New Comcast Accord, Multichannel News, January 14, 2008
- (May 19, 2009). Ion Uses FCC Inquiry on Content Control to Push for Qubo Carriage. MultiChannel News.
- "ION Media Networks Inks Multi-Affiliate Deals for Diginets". Telecommunications Weekly. May 26, 2010. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
- "Qubo Sets Health Guidelines For Advertisers". Multichannel News. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
- "QUBO CHANNEL KICKS OFF FALL 2010 LINEUP STARTING MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 27". Ion Media Networks. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
- Weisman, Jon (March 28, 2012). "NBC to launch Saturday kids block". Variety. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
- Rubino, Lindsay (March 28, 2012). "NBC, With Assist From Sprout, to Launch Saturday Morning Preschool Block". MultiChannel News. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
- Andreeva, Nellie (March 28, 2012). "NBC Launches Preschool Saturday Block Programmed By Sprout". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
- Nordyke, Kimberly (November 13, 2013). "NBCUniversal Acquires Ownership of Kids' Channel Sprout". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 13, 2014.
- Hagey, Keach (November 13, 2013). "NBCUniversal Buys Remainder of Sprout Network". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 14, 2013.