When you have young children, one of the channels you will probably end up watching a lot is Sprout Network that features an array of shows from HIT Entertainment.  One of the biggest HIT characters is Thomas the Tank Engine.  But things for HIT Entertainment haven’t been that great lately, and with the company in debt, they had to put out the For Sale sign. In case you haven’t noticed, Thomas the Tank engine still sells a lot of toys, which is probably why Mattel swooped in and bought the company on the cheap.


Cheap may be a bit of an understatement, as Deadline has HIT selling for $680 million in cash.  That’s $20 million less than what the company wanted, and way less than the $890 million the company sold for back 2005.  The owner of HIT, Apax Partners, didn’t give up everything though, Apax will still hold on to the 30% stake in Sprout network in anticipation that NBC Universal will buy it out for complete control of the network.

While Thomas the Tank Engine represents 80% of HIT’s revenue, Mattel also got their hands on Barney, Bob the BUilder, Angelina Ballerina, and Pingu.  This is a huge win for Mattel, as they used to license the Thomas character from HIT for the toys sold in the U.S.

via Deadline


About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...


  1. Interesting. Without HIT, I wouldn’t think Apax will have much leverage in any deal with NBC/U/Comcast for their share of Sprout. Thomas and the HIT properties are where then money is…they may get bought out at a bargain basement price…I also wonder if Mattel will keep those properties on Sprout, who has of late been developing their own programming independent of licenses. Could be a seismic shift for the channel when license renewals come around.

  2. The shame of it is that in the isles of toyland it seems there are just two American companies now a days. I remember the multitudes of companies of yesterday and it’s sad that it’s has come down to two conglomerates HASBRO and Mattel…..

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