Qubo logo, used since 2012; used on Qubo Channel and as logo bug during Ion Television's "Qubo Kids' Corner" block.
|Launched||September 9, 2006
(as programming block)|
January 8, 2007 (as standalone channel)
|Closed||June 30, 2012
(NBC programming block)|
July 1, 2012 (Telemundo programming block)
|Owned by||Ion Media Networks|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)|
|Slogan||Where Good Fun Begins!|
|Broadcast area||Nationwide (via OTA digital television)
(covering 65% of the U.S.)
|Headquarters||West Palm Beach, Florida|
|Sister channel(s)||Ion Television
|Qubo Channel available on Ion Television owned-and-operated stations and select affiliates||Varies; usually carried on the second digital subchannel (see list of affiliates)|
|DirecTV||Channel 306 (carried from 6:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Eastern)|
|Available on select other U.S. cable systems||Consult your local cable provider or program listings source for channel availability|
|Sky Angel||Channel 307|
|Time Warner Cable||Channel 155|
Qubo (// KEW-boh stylized as "qubo") is an American multi-platform children's entertainment service that is owned by Ion Media Networks. Qubo consists of a 24-hour television channel (which is available as a digital multicast service on owned-and-operated stations and some affiliates of corporate sister Ion Television, and on some pay television providers) and a video on demand service, as well as the brand for a weekly programming block on Ion Television under the name "Qubo Kids Corner".
In May 2006, Ion Media Networks, NBC Universal (which owned a 32% interest in Ion Media at the time), 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 programming blocks on NBC Universal and Ion's respective broadcast television networks, a video on demand service, a website, and a standalone 24-hour network to be carried as a digital subchannel on television stations owned by Ion Media Networks and by cable and satellite providers.
Qubo president Rick Rodriquez (who formerly served as a programming executive at Discovery Communications) explained in a 2008 interview with Multichannel News that Qubo was designed as a bilingual brand, offering programming in both English and Spanish. While Qubo would initially carry Spanish-language dubs of its programming for its Telemundo block, Rodriquez did not rule out the possibility of developing original children's programming tailored to Hispanic audiences through Qubo in the future. He felt that the market for Spanish-language children's programming had been underserved by existing outlets (such as Telemundo and Univision), and envisioned the possibility of programming which could "bridge the gap" and educate Spanish-speaking children on the English language, and vice versa. Rodriquez also explained that the Qubo brand was intended to represent a "building block for kids," as reflected by its logo, and remarked that the name was chosen for the endeavor due to its "fun" sound and that the name also worked well for marketing purposes in both English and Spanish.
Qubo launched on September 9, 2006, with the premiere of weekend morning blocks on NBC (which aired exclusively on Saturday mornings, replacing Discovery Kids on NBC, a weekly block programmed by the Discovery Kids cable network) and Telemundo (which aired on both Saturday and Sunday mornings); that was followed on September 15 by the introduction of a daytime block on i: Independent Television, which initially aired on Friday afternoons. At launch, its programming included the first-run animated series Dragon (produced by Scholastic) and Jane and the Dragon (produced by Corus subsidiary Nelvana), along with VeggieTales and its spinoffs 3-2-1 Penguins and LarryBoy Adventures (produced by Classic Media subsidiary Big Idea) – marking the first time that VeggieTales had ever been broadcast as a television program.
VeggieTales and its spin-offs incorporated lessons related to Christian teachings; initially, this religious content was edited out of the original VeggieTales broadcasts on Qubo at the request of NBC's standards and practices department. The move, however, drew criticism from the conservative watchdog group Parents Television Council, which filed a complaint against NBC. A representative for NBC replied in a statement 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 that he would have refused to sign a contract with Qubo if he had known of the decision 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. A companion digital subchannel network, Qubo Channel, launched on Ion Media Networks' stations on January 8, 2007, initially featuring a schedule of children's programming in rolling four-hour blocks; Ion intended to seek carriage of the channel on cable, satellite and telco providers. In May of that year, NBC Universal sold its minority stake in Ion Media Networks to Citadel LLC. On December 3, 2007, Qubo Channel expanded its programming offerings to include shows from other producers, as well as some programs that were already airing on Ion Television's Qubo block. In addition, the rolling schedule was expanded to a six-hour block, which repeated four times per 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 August 2008, Qubo introduced guidelines for advertisers in an effort to help combat childhood obesity, committing to only accept advertisements for products which meet nutritional guidelines determined 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, the United States Olympic Committee and the Department of Health and Human Services, advocating exercise and healthy living. In 2009, Ion Media Networks filed an inquiry with the Federal Communications Commission to seek must-carry cable and satellite carriage of Qubo. Later in May 2010, Ion signed carriage agreements for Qubo with Advanced Cable Communications and Blue Ridge Communications, as well as deal with Comcast's Colorado Springs system.
Discontinuation by NBC
With the acquisition of NBC Universal by Comcast, it was announced on March 28, 2012, that Qubo would be discontinued by NBC and Telemundo in favor of NBC Kids and MiTelemundo – which would both be programmed by Sprout, a preschool-oriented television network that came under NBC ownership as part of the merger – on July 7; leaving Ion Television as the only remaining network with a Qubo-branded programming block (with Ion Media acquiring NBCUniversal's interest in the venture). At the time, Sprout was a competing joint venture between Comcast, HIT Entertainment, PBS and Sesame Workshop; NBCUniversal acquired full ownership of the cable network in November 2013. Ion Media Networks acquired the stakes in Qubo held by DreamWorks Classics, Scholastic and Corus Entertainment in 2013, with all three companies retaining distribution partnerships. The Qubo block on Ion Television was renamed as the "Qubo Kids Corner" on January 4, 2015, concurrent with the block's move from Friday to Sunday mornings.
Qubo Channel features archived content from the programming libraries of Corus Entertainment, DreamWorks Classics and Scholastic Corporation, with its programs targeted at children ages 2 to 11. Though there was an early promise of the three companies, NBC Universal and Ion Media producing a new series for the network and program block each year, Qubo only produced one original series – the animated series Turbo Dogs, which aired from 2007 to 2008. Qubo Channel regularly broadcast series aimed at preschoolers during the morning and afternoon hours, while series aimed at older children are featured as part of the network's nighttime schedule.
Programming on Qubo Channel and its companion Ion Television block account for all educational programming content on Ion Television's owned-and-operated stations and certain Ion affiliates that carry the 24-hour channel, relieving the network from the responsibility of carrying programs compliant with guidelines dictated by the Children's Television Act on its other subchannel services (especially those that simulcast the Home Shopping Network and QVC, two networks that by virtue of their primary distribution via cable and satellite television, are exempt from the guidelines).
On September 28, 2010, Qubo Channel launched "Qubo Night Owl", a new overnight block aimed at older teenagers and adults (running from 12:00 to 6:00 a.m. Eastern Time) featuring classic animated series, many of which came from the Filmation library owned by Classic Media; the block was restructured in August 2013 to feature a mix of animated and live-action series sourced solely from Qubo's distribution partners.
- Qubo Night Owl - Qubo Night Owl is the channel's overnight block that features many classical animated series from Filmation, and is aimed at older teenagers and adults as well. This block runs everyday from 12:00 to 6:00 a.m.Eastern Time.
- List of stations owned and operated by Ion Media Networks
- Disney Junior
- Discovery Kids
- "The Top 25 Digital Broadcast Networks". TVNewsCheck (NewsCheck Media). June 17, 2014. Retrieved December 28, 2014.
- "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.
- Luis Clemens (February 16, 2008). "Qubo’s Rodriguez: Offering a 'Building Block’ to Kids". Multichannel News. Retrieved September 23, 2014.
- Ed Robertson (August 24, 2006). "Qubo, for English- and Spanish-speaking youngsters". MediaLife Magazine. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
- Andrew Hampp (August 24, 2006). "NBC Debuts Kids Programming Brand Qubo". Advertising Age. Retrieved February 14, 2014.
- "QUBO TO LAUNCH ON NBC, TELEMUNDO AND THE I NETWORK THIS SEPTEMBER". ION Media Network. Retrieved August 23, 2006.
- Sandy Cohen (September 22, 2006). "Talking Veggies Stir Controversy at NBC". Fox News. Associated Press.
- David Goetzl (January 9, 2007). "Hola!: Qubo Launches 24/7 Kids Channel". MediaPost. Retrieved February 14, 2014.
- "qubo Launches as 24-Hour Digital Broadcast Channel on ION Media Networks Station Group". BusinessWire. January 8, 2007.
- "ION Media Networks and Comcast Announce Affiliation Agreement for Channel Suite". Yahoo! News. January 14, 2008.
- "ION Media Plugs In New Comcast Accord". Multichannel News. January 14, 2008.
- "Qubo Sets Health Guidelines For Advertisers". Multichannel News. Retrieved September 23, 2014.
- "Ion Uses FCC Inquiry on Content Control to Push for Qubo Carriage". Multichannel News. May 19, 2009.
- "ION Media Networks Inks Multi-Affiliate Deals for Diginets". Telecommunications Weekly. May 26, 2010. Retrieved February 22, 2014 – via HighBeam Research.
- Jon Weisman (March 28, 2012). "NBC to launch Saturday kids block". Variety (Penske Media Corporation). Retrieved March 29, 2012.
- Lindsay Rubino (March 28, 2012). "NBC, With Assist From Sprout, to Launch Saturday Morning Preschool Block". Multichannel News. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
- Nellie Andreeva (March 28, 2012). "NBC Launches Preschool Saturday Block Programmed By Sprout". Deadline.com. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
- Kimberly Nordyke (November 13, 2013). "NBCUniversal Acquires Ownership of Kids' Channel Sprout". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 13, 2014.
- Keach Hagey (November 13, 2013). "NBCUniversal Buys Remainder of Sprout Network". The Wall Street Journal. News Corp. Retrieved November 14, 2013.
- "QUBO CHANNEL KICKS OFF FALL 2010 LINEUP STARTING MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 27". Ion Media Networks. Retrieved September 23, 2014.