From now on, fresh episodes of the children’s television program “Sesame Street” will be brought to you by the letters “HBO.” Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit group behind the popular children’s television series, has made a deal to bring the next five seasons of the show to HBO, starting this fall.
The partnership will allow Sesame Workshop to significantly increase its production of “Sesame Street” episodes and other new programming. The group will produce 35 new “Sesame Street” episodes a year, up from the 18 it produces now. Sesame Workshop also will create a spinoff series based on the “Sesame Street” Muppets and another new educational series for children.
The shows will be exclusive to HBO for nine months, and will then be made available for free over the air viewing on PBS, its home for the last 45 years. PBS will also run “Sesame Street” this fall, with a season that features episodes from previous season that are being edited in new ways.
“Sesame Workshop’s new partnership does not change the fundamental role PBS and stations play in the lives of families,” said PBS spokeswoman Anne Bentley.
Neither HBO or Sesame Workshop divulged financial terms of the deal. The deal comes at a crucial time for the children’s television group, as it has seen revenue drop due to the rapid rise of streaming and on-demand viewing, as well as the all important licensing income, which provided over 90% of the group’s funding. (Less than 10% of episode funding comes from PBS.)
Sesame Street will appear on both HBO’s normal traditional cable networks, as well as its stand-alone streaming service HBO Now, (available on the Apple TV). In addition to the new series, HBO licensed more than 150 past episodes of “Sesame Street,” as well as about 50 past episodes of “Pinky Dinky Doo” and “The Electric Company” from Sesame Workshop.