HBO Lands 'Sesame Street' for First-Run Episodes in Multi-Season Deal

HBO will become the first-run home of Big Bird as the pay service announced Thursday it has inked a five-season deal with Sesame Workshop to carry the long-running children's series Sesame Street.

The partnership will give HBO rights to air the next five seasons of the iconic children’s program on its pay service and its multiplex channels, HBO GO, HBO On Demand and HBO NOW, said network officials.

PBS, the longtime home of Sesame Street, will be able to receive new episodes of the series free to its member stations nine months after airing on HBO, according to officials.

Sesame Workshop officials said it will be able to produce almost twice as much new content as in previous seasons through the HBO deal. Sesame Workshop will produce a Sesame Street Muppet spinoff series, as well as develop a new original educational series for children.

“Our new partnership with HBO represents a true winning public-private partnership model,” said Jeffrey D. Dunn, Sesame Workshop’s CEO, in a statement. “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.”

Along with new Sesame Street episodes, HBO has also licensed over 150 library episodes of the series, according to the network.

“We are absolutely thrilled to help secure the future of Sesame Street and Sesame Workshop’s mission for the nation’s kids and families,” said Richard Plepler, chairman and CEO of HBO, and Michael Lombardo, president, HBO Programming. “Home Box Office is committed to bringing the most groundbreaking and creative shows to its audience. 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 Sesame Street expand and build its franchise.”

The deal comes as OTT services such as Netflix and Amazon continue to ramp up development and distribution of original, children's-targeted series and specials.

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R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.