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HBO Getting New 'Sesame Street' Episodes First

13 Aug, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Longtime carrier PBS will air episodes nine months later

The battle for children’s eyeballs on linear TV and digitally took a major financial turn Aug. 13 when Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind venerable series “Sesame Street,” and HBO announced an exclusive pact that will make the next five seasons of the Emmy Award-winning show available first on HBO, HBO Go, HBO On Demand and SVOD service HBO Now.

Heretofore, “Sesame Street,” has aired exclusively on PBS for the past 45 years.

As a key part of the deal that will pay the show’s creators an undisclosed license fee, Sesame will be able to produce almost twice as much new content as previous seasons, and for the first time, make the series available free of charge to PBS and its member stations after a nine-month window.

“Our new partnership with HBO represents a true winning public-private partnership model,” Jeffrey Dunn, CEO of Sesame Workshop, said in a statement. “It provides [us] with the critical funding [needed] to be able to continue production of 'Sesame Street' and secure its nonprofit mission.”

In addition to the next five seasons of “Sesame Street,” Sesame Workshop will produce a “Sesame Street Muppet” spinoff series, as well as develop a new original educational series for children. 

HBO has also licensed more than 150 library episodes of “Sesame Street.” The new episodes will begin airing as early as late-fall 2015. HBO will have the right to air all series in both English and Spanish. New episodes of “Sesame Street” will continue to be made available, uninterrupted, as part of the PBS KIDS service on PBS member stations following the pay-TV window.

“Sesame Street” is the most important preschool education program in the history of television. We are delighted to be a home for this extraordinary show, helping [it] expand and build its franchise,” Richard Plepler, CEO of HBO, and Michael Lombardo, president of HBO programming, said in a joint statement.

In addition to “Sesame Street,” HBO will also license approximately 50 past episodes of two children’s series, “Pinky Dinky Doo,” an animated series for preschoolers that focuses on early literacy, and “The Electric Company,” which was rebooted in 2009 by Sesame Workshop.  

“The Electric Company” originally featured then-unknown actor Morgan Freeman from 1971 to 1977. 


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