HBO Subscribers Will Get Sesame Street First From Now On, And The Rest Of Us Will Just Have To Wait

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giphy (1)“They’re even gentrifying Sesame Street!” one of my Facebook friends groaned this afternoon, because Sesame Workshop and the network that brings us Game of Thrones have just signed a deal that will put new episodes of Sesame Street on HBO for that network’s paid subscribers nine months before the episodes appear for free on PBS for everybody else.

According to The New York Times, the next five seasons of Sesame Street will air first on HBO. HBO and its streaming services will get the new episodes exclusively for nine months, at which point the episodes will air for free on PBS, which has been the home of Sesame Street for 45 years. Sesame Workshop will be producing 35 episodes per season instead of 18, though Jezebel reports that Sesame Street is going to be switching to 30 minute episodes instead of the previous hour-long ones.

The New York Times says less than 10 percent of Sesame Street’s funding came from PBS. The rest came from licensing and sales, but those sales had been falling recently and Sesame Workshop was reportedly forced to cut back on production and new material.

“The partnership is really a great thing for kids,” said Sesame Workshop chief executive Jeffrey Dunn. “We’re getting revenues we otherwise would not have gotten, and with this we can do even more content for kids.”

Sesame Street is the best. Studies have shown that Sesame Street actually gives kids an academic head start and helps keep them from falling behind in school, especially kids from disadvantaged backgrounds. It even helps children deal with the trauma of having a parent incarcerated. But while it is great that Sesame Street will be able to increase production thanks to the HBO deal, it is a real bummer that new episodes of Sesame Street, which was originally on PBS specifically in an effort to reach low-income kids, will now be available only for kids whose parents have premium cable for nine months. Kids who don’t have access to HBO will have to wait 3/4 of a year for their trickle-down Muppets, and that income-based discrepancy feels very out of line with the show’s purpose and history.

(GIF via Tumblr)