HBO strikes deal for Sesame Street episodes

Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, and Cookie Monster better get packing. The “Sesame Street” neighborhood is relocating.

On Thursday, Sesame Workshop, the educational organization behind the famed children’s show, announced that it has struck a five-year partnership with HBO and its various outlets, HBO Go, HBO On-Demand, and the new Internet-only HBO Now. The next five seasons of Sesame Street will air first on the cable network beginning in late fall 2015 and then be made available for free to the show’s longtime broadcaster, PBS and its member stations.

With the deal, Sesame Workshop will produce almost twice as much content as previous seasons—the five seasons of “Sesame Street,” plus a spinoff series “Sesame Street Muppet” and new original educational series for children.

The deal comes at a critical time for Sesame Network, which has, in the past, received less than 10% of its “Sesame Street” funding from PBS, according to The New York Times. The rest came from licensing revenue, like DVD sales, which has taken a hit recently as viewers have turned to streaming and on-demand content. Sesame Network had to cut production of its signature show as a result.

Sesame Workshop CEO Jeffrey Dunn said in a statement that the new partnership provides the educational organization with the “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.”

The coup for HBO is the latest salvo in its streaming wars with competitors Netflix (NFLX) and (AMZN), which have targeted young viewers and parents with original children’s shows and reruns recently.

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