Sesame Street a long time stable of the free Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), will now be screened on premium cable network HBO, part of a push by the network to expand its audience.
The network has announced a five-year deal with the nonprofit educational group behind “Sesame Street” to carry new seasons of the long running, popular children’s show which means the next five seasons of “Sesame Street” will be shown exclusively on HBO and its streaming services HBO Now and HBO Go.
In a statement HBO said the partnership would allow Sesame Workshop to produce twice as much new content as previous seasons. The shows would be released for free to PBS stations nine months later.
Sesame Workshop would also produce a “Muppet” spinoff series and develop a new original educational series for children for HBO.
Netflix and Amazon will no longer be able to screen old episodes of “Sesame Street,” said Steve Youngwood, chief operating officer at the nonprofit Sesame Workshop.
Television industry experts say the Sesame Street deal could help HBO attract more subscribers as TV viewing continues to move online and at a time when Amazon and Netflix have been expanding their children’s TV programming. It also removes a key piece of children’s programming from the rival networks.
In 2011, Netflix started a section for children aged 12 and under, featuring TV shows and Disney Channel movies. DreamWorks has agreed to create 300 hours of original kids programs for Netflix.
BTIG Research analyst Rich Greenfield said Netflix is retaining subscribers by adding more children’s content, with HBO now following this strategy to keep subscribers interested in its online service. He said adding children's programing also made it harder for families with children to cancel cable service.
“They have to expand the programming to make it stickier,” he said. “Otherwise it’s too easy when a show ends to disconnect for a few weeks," he said.