Sesame Street has been a childhood staple since 1969, but now a whole new — and very different — generation is watching it. Since the kids watching television today are growing up in a vastly different world than kids did when Sesame Street first launched, Fortune reports that there are some changes being made to the show as it launches its 46th season.
First and foremost, Sesame Street is no longer a Public Broadcasting System show. HBO has taken over the iconic children’s show and will be broadcasting it for the next five seasons. All new episodes of Sesame Street will still air on PBS, but only nine months after the initial air date on HBO.
— Sesame Street (@sesamestreet) January 16, 2016
Aside from this big difference, the format of Sesame Street will also change. The show will be half-hour long, rather than one hour, and the show will change from a variety format to a single theme. With the new season having begun on Saturday, Entertainment Weekly spoke with Carol-Lynn Parente, executive producer of Sesame Street, to get her take on the new Sesame Street and why it’s changing. When it comes to the half-hour format, Parente said it was about engaging kids.
“It came out of creative workshops we did about engagement. What we realized is that there is so much competition and you have to engage kids right away. If you start the show with [a child-relevant] topic, you grab them and they understand what the show is about. But in order to stay thematic strongly through the entire show, an hour was just too long, and we couldn’t hit that theme that cohesively. So that led to us to come up with a half-hour format.”
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) August 14, 2015
Only the most popular characters will be kept at the forefront of the show, which is also an effort to keep kids watching in an age in which they can browse and choose whatever show they want to watch with the click of a button or the tap of a screen.
“Kids now have control and they know how to navigate interfaces and choose their content so they’re going to make a choice that has their favorite character. So when you look at it from that perspective it’s like, duh. So we had to pick those characters that are the most popular and sought after by kids, and then make a promise to them that they’ll see them everyday.”
Fortunately, all the characters will still be on the show in some capacity and there will still be celebrity guest stars on Sesame Street.
“Season 46 has Gwen Stefani and Nick Jonas singing the sexiest song about triangles you will ever hear! The Fifth Harmony girls are a riot. And there are lots of selfies.”
— Island Records (@IslandRecords) January 14, 2016
This is good to know because the celebrities that appear on Sesame Street really bring something unique to the show. Some celebrities even bring Sesame Street to them. E! News reports that on Thursday night, Jimmy Fallon brought Elmo, Abby, Cookie Monster, and some other Sesame Street characters onto the show to photobomb kids and their families having their photos taken.
“OK, guys. Be quiet. We’re doing a photobomb. You know what a photobomb is, right? Well, a photobomb is when someone takes a picture and then we jump in the background and surprise them, and then they don’t know that we’re there until they see it on their phone. Do you understand what we’re doing?”
— 102.7 KIIS-FM (@1027KIISFM) January 16, 2016
Check it out because the clip is too hilarious.
The new Sesame Street can be streamed on any mobile device at HBOKIDS.com. Check out the promo for the new season on HBO.
[Composite image containing photos by Shutterstock; Andrew H. Walker, David Becker / Getty Images]