Eisner Plays for Team Baby26 Jun, 2006 By: Thomas K. Arnold
Michael Eisner's on a roll — behind the scenes, at least. Fresh from making a big investment in, and landing a seat on the board of, hot new Internet television broadcasting system Veoh Networks, the former chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Co. has announced his intent to buy a children's video supplier.
Eisner's The Tornante Co. is acquiring Team Baby Entertainment from its founder, Greg Scheinman, who will continue on as CEO. Eisner will partner with Scheinman to boost the “Team Baby” brand, which consists of a series of DVDs tied to college sports teams.
Team Baby has 20 half-hour DVDs in the market, including Baby Irish (Notre Dame), Baby Longhorn (University of Texas) and Baby Wolverine (University of Michigan).
Each title features official footage of the featured school's sports teams, interspersed with video clips of campus attractions, traditions, stadiums, mascots and kids playing with a variety of school-specific products. Preschoolers learn counting and spelling by using words, numbers and images related to the school. The DVDs also feature a soundtrack with the school's marching band performing the fight song, along with original “Team Baby” music.
“Being a sports fan and parent, I am excited to be part of this company and to help foster its growth,” Eisner said. “Team Baby's products are unique in the marketplace for preschool videos in that they introduce a child to its parents' favorite athletic teams while also promoting the idea of sports and teamwork.”
Scheinman launched Team Baby after 10 years of production experience in the film and television industries.
“Team Baby started very simply,” he said. “I was looking for a product to introduce my 2-year-old son to the teams I'm a fan of, and when I discovered there was nothing out there like this I said, ‘I love sports, I love my son, and I know a little about production,' so I created ‘Team Baby' to give parents and sports fans like me a fun and interactive way to introduce their child to their favorite teams.”
Scheinman has high hopes for big growth now that Eisner is on board.
“Our initial ‘Team Baby' series seemed to really connect with both media and parents,” he said. “We have received some tremendous press coverage, and actually Michael Eisner first learned about the company through reading a story on us in the Los Angeles Times.
“Now, he's become a great partner, mentor and friend, and I couldn't be happier to continue to build ‘Team Baby' alongside him and his team at Tornante.”
In addition to his investment in Veoh Networks, Eisner now hosts a monthly CNBC talk show, “Conversations With Michael Eisner,” that hasn't fared too well with either critics or the public. The latest episode, which aired June 20, averaged just 42,000 viewers in the lucrative 25-54 demo and 68,000 total viewers, according to Nielsen.