Picture from Big Bird and Pals Are Headed to HBO
Big Bird and his friends on Sesame Street have been entertaining and educating children for 45 years. Image ©Sesame Street (1969)

Big Bird and Pals Are Headed to HBO

Big Bird and his pals on Sesame Street are heading to HBO. The producers of one of America’s favorite children’s television programs recently penned a five-year deal with the pay-TV network HBO. Now according to the PTC’s Weekly Wrap, parents will have to fork out $180 a year for their children to watch original episodes of the educational programming. But subscribers to Sesame Street will also have access to some of the industry’s most graphic and sexual material on television.

PTC President Tim Winter called this a “two-caste system between the families able to afford HBO and those who cannot, and given the positive educational value of Sesame Street, that’s very troubling.”

Winter said many people avoided HBO because of the explicit content shown on the channel.

“Now they must subscribe to the very content they abhor in order to get original airings of Sesame Street for their children.”

However according to one source, “after a nine-month window, episodes of Big Bird and pals will air, free of charge, on PBS and its member stations.”

As odd as the partnership may seem, it may help save the 45-year-old show from closing down production. Although the program has been a staple on PBS, the public broadcaster “funds less than 10% of production costs of the show.” The rest of the funding came from licensing income, much of which has been lost with the rise of digital on-demand children’s content.

“The current path we were walking on wasn’t going to work,” said Sesame Workshop CEO Steve Youngwood.

The agreement with Time Warner’s HBO will allow Sesame Street to continue to produce new content although each episode will now be 30 minutes long instead of 60.