“Sesame Street” Gets Gentrified, Signs 5-Year Lease With HBO

Sesame Street Workshop announced in a press release Thursday that the next five seasons of the public television staple, “Sesame Street,” will air exclusively on HBO and its various other channels and services, including HBOGo and their recently-launched streaming on demand service, HBO Now. PBS and their related affiliates will get the seasons after a nine-month window, and the deal will allow “Sesame Street” “to produce almost twice as much new content as previous seasons.” From the official statement:

“Our new partnership with HBO represents a true winning public-private partnership model,” said Jeffrey D. Dunn, Sesame Workshop’s CEO. “It provides Sesame Workshop with the critical funding it needs to be able to continue production of Sesame Street and secure its nonprofit mission of helping kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder; it gives HBO exclusive pay cable and SVOD access to the nation’s most important and historic educational programming; and it allows Sesame Street to continue to air on PBS and reach all children, as it has for the past 45 years.”

What’s great about this is that “Sesame Street” will continue to be produced at what seems to be little to no cost to PBS. But the new seasons won’t be available for nine months, neatly alienating an entire swath of the population that lacks the resources to pay for premium cable. If you’re privileged enough to have the money to pay for HBO, then your kids will have more options, just like in life! If you’re a stressed-out parent who wants to use the television as an occasional, but educational babysitter while you tend to your real-life shit in the next room, your kids will have to wait for the new stuff to trickle down. I’d like to think that kids these days don’t have a big stake in spoiler alert culture like their terrible parents, but I’m not privy to what goes down in pre-school. Regardless of the negligible cultural implications this will have on your child’s social life, this news is a bit worrisome. [Personally, I would have flipped my lid if I had to wait nine months to watch Maria and Luis’s epic wedding back in third grade. — Amelia]

The children’s television landscape is pretty bleak. The large majority of shows that you’d let little Davinia and Wolfram watch on television are garbage. “Sesame Street” was a pioneer in children’s programming, and continues to produce high-quality television that’s accessible to every child with a television and an antenna. Producing more of that great television is wonderful! But it would be great if the window of exclusivity was a little bit smaller.

As an indoor kid without cable for the majority of my childhood, I grew up on “Sesame Street.” I’m grateful for it. While you ponder this news and what it means for the future of children’s television and the minds of the babies, watch some of our favorite clips here.