“The Lannisters send their regards,” Elmo whispered softly to Big Bird. Two armed men held the gigantic yellow bird back so he could only watch helplessly as crossbow bolts riddled Snuffleupagus’ body. Streaks of blood streamed across the floor as Big Bird watched in horror. “Today’s letter of the day is ‘B’…and ‘B’ is for blood!” Elmo cackled maniacally.
Why such a grim opening? Because Sesame Street is heading to HBO of all places. After 45 years, the venerable children’s series will air first on HBO rather than PBS. According to a new deal between Sesame Workshop and the premium cable network, the next five seasons of Sesame Street will be available on HBO, as well as streaming services like HBO Go, HBO On Demand, and HBO Now. After a nine-month window of exclusivity, the show will be available for free on PBS and its member stations. As part of the partnership, Sesame Workshop will produce 35 new Sesame Street episodes each year, which is nearly double the 18 per year it produces currently. New episodes are expected to begin airing as early as late fall 2015.
For those of you still scratching your head over this partnership, it makes perfect sense from a business perspective. Though Sesame Street received funding from PBS, that money amounted to less than 10 percent of the funding needed to produce the series. The remaining cash was procured through licensing revenue from DVD and merchandise sales. However, as more and more people turn to streaming and VOD services, fewer and fewer people are purchasing the physical media which used to be Sesame Workshop’s bread and butter. According to The New York Times, approximately two-thirds of children who currently watch Sesame Street do so on demand rather than watching on PBS. Naturally, if we want more Oscar the Grouch in our lives, Sesame Workshop had to find alternate ways of financing his high-rolling, trash-dwelling lifestyle.
Here’s hoping that these next five seasons will be a delightfully meticulous shot-for-shot remake of The Wire, but with the Sesame Street characters instead.
Dan Casey is the senior editor of Nerdist and the author of 100 Things Avengers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. You can follow him on Twitter (@Osteoferocious).