BabyFirstTV growing up fast
By Steve Brennan

Hollywood Reporter
Mar 26, 2007

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Some people -- actually a whole lot of people -- thought the idea just too bizarre to ever get off the ground: a TV service for babies. Not toddlers or tweens -- babies up to 3 years old.

Now, as BabyFirstTV goes from crawl to run in the U.S. after less than a year on air, the service is hurdling into the global marketplace in a push that includes a clearance for the entire Middle East.

Following its launch last spring in the U.S. on Dish Network and DirecTV, the baby channel went up this month in the U.K. on BSkyB's satellite platform as well as in Mexico with Sky Mexico and Cablevision Mexico and in Puerto Rico via Onelink.

In addition, BabyFirstTV has closed a distribution agreement with Showtime Arabia that will place the channel throughout "the entire Arab world," according to Sharon Rechter, executive vp business development and marketing for BabyFirstTV.

Rechter says the hardest sell of all was the first -- the U.S. "It was the toughest time because we were coming out with such a new concept in a leading world market. But we were able to finally convince the (cable/satellite) operators that we really do have a unique concept," she says. The service goes out on pay TV in the U.S. and is under license in the rest of the world markets.

Rechter says numerous deals are pending and she expects to have at least 10 more international markets signed up by the end of the year.

So what is it about this new 0-3 demographic that has pay subscribers and advertisers sitting up and taking notice? Rechter says it's mostly about the content, which has been very cleverly figured out by experts around the world.

Programing features original content including the upcoming "Shushybye Baby" and other programs like "Rainbow Horse," "Sandman" and "I Can Sign" that help parents better understand the developmental benefits for their baby. The "Shushybye" series is one of the launch planks of the service worldwide and was created by L.A.-based public relations executive Steve Syatt.

"We are making early education fun and teaching babies about words and color and music in an intriguing way," Rechter adds. "And that's something that parents around the world are responding to."

The idea that TV is just plain bad for babies is still out there, admits Rechter, a recent first-time mom herself.

"Parents are embracing it in an amazing manner, and I receive hundreds of e-mails daily about how much they love it. But with the medical community . . . I think the more they are exposed to the uniqueness of BabyFirst, the more they and the child educators actually believe that watching TV with your child can be a beneficial experience."


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