Sesame Workshop announced today that starting in September, PBS will air a half-hour version of Sesame Street in addition to the standard hour-long version. They’re calling it a “bonus program,” and the plan is that PBS stations will air the half-hour show in the afternoon while the hour-long show continues to air in the morning.
The Sesame people are claiming their goal is to reach more young viewers, and to make the program more accessible online and on mobile devices. PBS’s General Manager of Children’s Programming is quoted as saying, “With this new half-hour program, we are excited to build on SESAME STREET’s 45-year legacy on PBS with a format that will make the series more accessible on mobile devices, where PBS KIDS’ reach is growing exponentially.”
But I think I’ve figured out their true motivation: It’s to make the show easier for me to watch. As a grown-up Sesame Street aficionado, I like to keep up with the show as much as possible. But even when I record it to watch after work, I know I’m going to end up skipping past the “Abby’s Flying Fairy School” and “Elmo’s World” and “Elmo the Musical” segments that I’ve already seen before. All I really want to see is the street stories and a few songs and sketches. And according to the press release and the New York Times coverage, that’s exactly what Sesame Street But Only Half As Long will consist of.
If this new experiment in formatting helps more kids learn stuff, that’s great. But if it means I can stay caught up on what Big Bird and Rosita and Alan and Chris are up to, then Sesame Workshop is really providing a valuable service. Thanks, guys!
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by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com