HBO and Sesame Street just announced a surprise deal that will put America’s most famous children’s TV program on the same network as Game of Thrones. PBS, the non-profit channel that has aired Sesame Street since it debuted in 1969, will still be allowed to air the program nine months after its initial run.
The move represents a push by HBO to provide more children-friendly programming on a network that’s more commonly identified with R-rated material. Sesame Street will also become available on HBO’s standalone digital app aimed at cordcutters, HBO Now.
Starting as early as this fall, HBO will get an exclusive window of nine months to air the show before it reaches the public airwaves. The show’s producers say the deal will allow the show to produce twice as many shows at no cost to PBS. (Update: Double the episodes is less impressive when you learn that HBO’s version of Sesame Street will cut show times down to 30 minutes. Episodes of Sesame Street used to be a full hour.)
“It provides Sesame Workshop with the critical funding it needs to continue production of ‘Sesame Street’ and secure its non-profit mission of helping kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder,” Sesame Workshop CEO Jeffrey D. Dunn said in a statement.
As the Washington Post notes, there are also hints that there could be spin-off shows for some of the Sesame Street characters.
“Over the past decade, both the way in which children are consuming video and the economics of the children’s television production business have changed dramatically,” Joan Ganz Cooney, co-founder of Sesame Street said in a statement. “In order to fund our nonprofit mission with a sustainable business model, Sesame Workshop must recognize these changes and adapt to the times.”
The news is certainly exciting for HBO users, but it’s sure to be controversial. The mission of PBS is to bring educational shows to everyone—now, it’ll go to paying customers first.
Image via AP