For those not already in the know, Sesame Street and its cast of characters, have found a new home on HBO.
This follows a decision last August where the series signed a five-year deal with HBO after struggling financially over the last three fiscal years. It has operated at a loss for some time now—loosing $21.7 million—as the money from donations, distribution fees, and—most crucially—licensing for merchandise dropped.
For the first time in its nearly 50 years on the air, Sesame Street will air new episodes—its 46th season—exclusively on the cable giant. PBS viewers will then get those episodes nine months later. Reruns will continue to air on PBS in the interim.
Executives at HBO are excited over the new acquisition. “At HBO, we are all fans of the series and couldn’t imagine Sesame Street not continuing on PBS,” Michael Lombardo, HBO president of programming, wrote via email. “We are proud to play this role in allowing it to continue on public television while at the same time seeing great value in adding an iconic series and an extensive library to HBO’s lineup.”
He added, “And we’ll finally be able to give everyone that Bert and Ernie sex scene they’ve been clamoring for.”
So what will be new? Episodes will only be 30 minutes long, for one, instead of the usual hour. This decision was made before the new partnership came about.
“It was a tough call to shorten the episodes,” said staffer Gail McClintock. “We had to reevaluate what we’re focusing on. For instance, we’ve decided to no longer even talk about letters like X, Q and Z. And we’ve axed the number 16. No one cares about 16.”