HIT Entertainment Ltd. (styled "HiT") is a British–American
entertainment company owned by
Mattel and originally established in
1982 as Henson International Television (formerly styled "hit!"). It
was founded as the international distribution arm of Jim Henson
Productions. HIT owns and distributes children's television series
such as Barney & Friends, Bob the Builder, Thomas & Friends,
Fireman Sam, and Angelina Ballerina.
1.1 Henson International Television
1.2 HiT Entertainment
1.3 Private corporation (2005–2012)
Mattel subsidiary (2012–present)
3 External links
Henson International Television
Henson International Television was founded in 1982, by
Jim Henson and
Peter Orton as a distribution company for their children's, teens and
family television. Orton had met Henson when he was at the
Children's Television Workshop
Children's Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) handling Sesame
Street distribution. So Henson hired Orton in 1981 to set up the
Jim Henson Productions started negotiations with The Walt Disney
Company regarding a possible purchase of the company in the late
1980s. Because of these negotiations, Henson International Television
head Orton led a management buyout of the Henson International
Television division from Henson in 1989, forming a new company named
HiT continued distributing programming by initially signing Postman
Pat and Alvin & the Chipmunks series. The company then financed
Wind in the Willows
Wind in the Willows and the
Peter Rabbit animated
features. In 1990,
Flextech took a 23% share in HiT for about
£600,000. The HiT Wildlife division was soon set up to produce nature
and wildlife programming which provided the company with 35% of its
revenue by the mid-1990s.
HiT also handled international distribution for Lyrick Studios' Barney
& Friends. With the success of Barney, HiT began to develop its
own programming for the pre-school market. By 1996, HiT was listed on
the AIM to raise funding to develop these programs. HiT used the
funding to launch HiT Video that produced direct to video programming
in the UK only.
Bob the Builder
Bob the Builder was one such character that HiT
purchased its TV series rights.
With another offering in 1997, HiT increased its capitalization and
move to the primary
London Stock Exchange. HIT used this funding to
develop Brambly Hedge, Percy the Park Keeper, and Kipper, which became
its first hit on ITV.
In 1998, HIT formed its own animation production company, HOT
Animation, Katherine Yung and Julie Hinds, and its Consumers Product
BBC signed on as the broadcaster for Bob the Builder.
HiT signed a series of USA broadcasting deal starting with Nickelodeon
for Kipper and expanded to Starz/Encore (
Brambly Hedge and Percy the
Park Keeper series),
HBO Family (Anthony Ant cartoon series) and
Animal Planet channel (Wylands Ocean World wildlife program). Kipper
also won the 1998 BAFTA award for Best Children's Animation. To end
the year, HIT offered another group of shares.
HIT opened 1999 with 10 first run TV series in the USA and started its
consumer products USA subsidiary. In April,
Bob the Builder
Bob the Builder debuted on
BBC as a hit. In July, the company made another public offering of
stock. A USA deal for Bob was signed in December with
start airing in January 2001.
Mattel signed a five-year licensing
agreement for its development
Angelina Ballerina series.
In January 2000, the company split its share five-for-one. HiT which
has been looking for an acquisition for a while began talks with
Thomas the Tank Engine
Thomas the Tank Engine owner,
Britt Allcroft early that year, but fell
apart as they could not agree on a price.
Bob the Builder
Bob the Builder continued
its success with the number one record in December.
Lyrick Studios in February 2001 while selling Lyrick's
money losing publishing operations and extending its Barney-
In May, the first
Bob the Builder
Bob the Builder video was released in the USA while
the company signed a deal with
Sears to have "Bob Shops" in the
retail's stores. With the Henson Company's owner
EM.TV in financial
trouble over its purchase of 50% share in Formula One racing rights,
HiT joined a number of companies willing to purchase Henson. In
October 2001, HiT's bid for
Pingu BV was accepted.
In April 2002,
HIT Entertainment sold their HIT Wildlife division to
the newly formed Parthenon Entertainment, which was owned by the
former managing director of Hit Wildlife, Carl Hall. 30 hours of
programming in production and its 300-hour library was transferred
over in the
Management buyout agreement.
After two years of bids from HiT, Gullane Entertainment's board agreed
to be purchased by HiT in 2002 when no white knight could be found.
In August 2002,
HIT Entertainment Canada, Inc. official opened its
office in Toronto.
In March 2003,
CCI Entertainment acquired HiT's stake in CCI (part of
the Gullane Purchase) and Gullane library rights in Canada.
On April 1, 2004, the company and The
Jim Henson Company agreed to a
five-year global distribution and production deal which included
distribution of 440 hours of the Henson Company's remaining library
include Fraggle Rock, Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas, The Hoobs
puppets and the Jim Henson's Mother Goose Stories. While firing
its chief executive Rob Lawes in October 2004, the company announced
its launching of
PBS Kids Sprout with partners PBS,
Comcast and Sesame
Private corporation (2005–2012)
Apax Partners took HiT private purchasing the company for
£489.4 million with former
BBC director general Greg Dyke
In 2006, HiT closed its DVD sales and distribution arm in the US and
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment for DVD
distribution. HiT continues to sell and distribute its own DVD
releasing output in the UK.
In September 2007, the corporation and Chellomedia formed a join
venture to run
JimJam children's channel.
In 2008, HiT hired Jeff Dunn, formerly of Nickelodeon, as chief
executive and moved DVD distribution to Lionsgate Home Entertainment.
Dunn move the company to create new characters, including Mike the
Knight, and revitalise existing brands. In February, HiT sold
Guinness World Records
Guinness World Records brand, acquired with Gullane, to Ripley
Entertainment. They also sold the rights to the
and properties to his current presenter,
Richard Cadell after HiT put
the rights to
Sooty up for sale in October 2007.
In March 2009, HiT Entertainment started its HiT Movies division based
Los Angeles with Julia Pistor as division head to create movies
based on the company's franchises. First planned movie adaptation
was for live action Thomas & Friends in late 2010.
In early 2010, HiT licensed Thomas & Friends to
toys. By August, the company withdrew from the
venture but would continue providing programming.
In April 2011, Apax put HiT up for sale with option to sell the
company in two parts Thomas & Friends franchise and the other HiT
characters with its Kids Sprout stake with either parts or separately.
Expected bidders were Disney, Viacom, Mattel, Hasbro, Classic Media
(now known as DreamWorks Classics), Chorion and Saban Brands. By
Fireman Sam was revitalised enough to be a Top 10 UK
best-selling character toy according to NPD Group.
Mattel subsidiary (2012–present)
Apax Partners group agreed to sell HiT Entertainment to
October 2011 for $680 million. Its share of Sprout was not included in
the deal. The sale/merger was completed on February 1, 2012,
HIT Entertainment became a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel,
managed under its
Fisher-Price unit. Their next programme Mike the
Knight aired on
CBeebies later in the year.
HiT announced a DVD distribution deal with Universal Pictures Home
Entertainment on May 2, 2014. In early summer 2015, Edaville USA
amusement park opened a licensed Thomas Land theme area based on
Thomas & Friends. On October 6, 2015, HiT Entertainment
announced a long-term partnership with
9 Story Media Group
9 Story Media Group to relaunch
Barney & Friends and Angelina Ballerina. In March 2016, HiT
was transferred to
Mattel Creations, a division of
Mattel created to
bring all content creation units together under Mattel’s Chief
Content Officer Catherine Balsam-Schwaber.
^ a b c d e f g h i j "
HIT Entertainment PLC History". Company
Profiles. fundinguniverse.com. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
^ a b c d e f Garside, Juliette (April 17, 2011). "How to get Hit
Entertainment back on track?". Guardian. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
^ a b Godfrey, Leigh (August 22, 2002). "
HIT Entertainment Canada
Opens Its Doors". AWN. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
^ "Our Brands". Corporate. HiT Entertainment. Retrieved 13 February
^ "Peter Orton: Media entrepreneur who made a global success of Bob
the Builder". The Independent. 12 December 2007. Retrieved 29 December
^ Forrest, Simon (12 December 2007). "Obituary: Peter Orton". The
Guardian. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
Pingu sold for £16m". Business.
BBC News. 2001-10-29. Retrieved
^ Winstone, Keely (29 April 2002). "Ex-Hit Wildlife man firms up
Parthenon". C21media. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
^ Cassy, John (6 July 2002). "Gullane gives in to Barney bid".
Guardian. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
^ "CCI takes Gullane titles back from Hit". c21media.net. May 26,
2003. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
^ Rossingh, Danielle (April 2, 2004). "HIT seals deal for Henson
catalogue". Telegraph. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
^ Martinson, Jane (21 October 2004). "HIT fires chief who pulled off
US deal". Guardian. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
^ a b Garside, Juliette (13 April 2011). "
Thomas the Tank Engine
Thomas the Tank Engine and
Bob the Builder
Bob the Builder may part company in HIT sale". Guardian. Retrieved 9
^ Chala, Jean K. (February 28, 2009). Transnational Television in
Europe: Reconfiguring Global Communications Networks. I.B.Tauris.
^ Allen, Katie (14 February 2008). "Guinness world records brand sold
to Ripley's for £60m". Guardian. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
^ Afan, Emily Claire (March 4, 2009). "HIT goes to the movies with
newly formed film division". kidscreen.com. Retrieved 9 April
^ Hayes, Dade (4 March 2009). "Hit Entertainment gets into movie biz".
Variety. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
^ a b Kell, John (October 25, 2011). "
Mattel to Buy HIT
Entertainment". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
^ "Hit pulls out of
JimJam JV". Digital TV Europe. TBIvision. October
22, 2010. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
Mattel to buy
Thomas the Tank Engine
Thomas the Tank Engine owner".
24 October 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
^ Szalai, Georg (January 31, 2012). "Mattel's Acquisition of 'Thomas
& Friends' Maker
HIT Entertainment to Close on Wednesday".
Hollywoodreporter.com. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
^ a b "HIT Lays Tracks for Thomas Land". License! Global Magazine.
UBM. June 17, 2014. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
^ McLean, Thomas J. (May 2, 2014). "HIT Taps Universal for Home
Animation Magazine. Retrieved May 7,
^ Vlessing, Etan (October 6, 2015). "MIPCOM: 'Barney & Friends'
Set for Relaunch by Mattel, 9 Story". The Hollywood Reporter.
Retrieved December 2, 2017.
^ Tartaglione, Nancy (March 31, 2016). "
Mattel Creations Formed To
Centralize Toy Giant's Theatrical, TV & Digital Content". Deadline
Hollywood. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
Official website (Archive)
Girls of Many Lands
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Monster High (
Ever After High
Ever After High • Enchantimals)
See 'n Say
What's Her Face
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Lady Lovely Locks
Turning Mecard (except South Korea and Mainland China)
Apples to Apples
Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots
Scrabble (except US and Canada)
Children's Discovery System
Ideal Toy Company
Bought and sold
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
Ice Follies And Holiday on Ice, Inc.
Barbie Girl" song case
Barbie's Restaurants trademark dispute
View-Master factory lawsuit
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Jim Henson Company
Fraggle Rock (1983–1987)
Fraggle Rock: The Animated Series (1987–1988)
The Storyteller (1988–1991)
Jim Henson Hour (1989)
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Dog City (1992–1994)
Secret Life of Toys (1994)
Jim Henson's Animal Show
Jim Henson's Animal Show (1994–1997)
Aliens in the Family (1996)
The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss (1996–1998)
Bear in the Big Blue House
Bear in the Big Blue House † (1997–2006)
Brats of the Lost Nebula (1998)
Construction Site (1999)
Family Rules (1999)
Mopatop's Shop (1999–2005)
The Fearing Mind (2000)
The Hoobs (2001–2003)
Telling Stories with Tomie dePaola (2001)
Animal Jam (2003)
Five Minutes More (2006)
Pajanimals (2008, 2011–2013)
Sid the Science Kid
Sid the Science Kid (2008–2013)
Dinosaur Train (2009–2017)
Me and My Monsters (2010–2011)
That Puppet Game Show
That Puppet Game Show (2013–2014)
The Doozers (2013–2014)
Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge
Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge (2014)
Hi Opie! (2014–2016)
Splash and Bubbles
Splash and Bubbles (2016-present)
Julie's Greenroom (2017)
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)
The Great Santa Claus Switch (1970)
Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas
Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (1977)
The Christmas Toy
The Christmas Toy (1986)
Monster Maker (1989)
The Song of the Cloud Forest (1989)
Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree (1995)
The Dark Crystal
The Dark Crystal (1982)
The Witches (1990)
Good Boy! (2003)
Five Children and It (2004)
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014)
The Star (2017)
The Happytime Murders
The Happytime Murders (2018)
Time Piece (1965, short film)
The Cube (1969, teleplay)
Gulliver's Travels (1996, miniseries)
Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story (2001, miniseries)
Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars (2004, miniseries)
The Sam Plenty Cavalcade of Action Show Plus Singing! (2008, web
Unstable Fables (2008, DTV film)
Oscar's Hotel for Fantastical Creatures (2015, web series)
Turkey Hollow (2015, TV film)
Puppet Up! (2006–present)
Late Night Liars
Late Night Liars (2010)
Simian Undercover Detective Squad (2011)
Neil's Puppet Dreams (2012–2013)
No, You Shut Up!
No, You Shut Up! (2013–2016)
Good Morning Today (2013–2014)
Jim Henson's Creature Shop
Henson Recording Studios
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Jim Henson Foundation
† Sold to
The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company in 2004, ‡ Muppet characters
only; sold to Sesam