PBS is launching a new kids TV channel with free games and programming, it announced in a press release. The free services include a new TV channel and live stream on digital platforms, provided by local stations.
The broadcaster said the new channel would be distinguished from other children’s programming for the same reason PBS’s programming has always stood out. It is free, with an emphasis on educational content, reported the New York Times.
PBS is planning to make it easier for children to watch their favorite series during primetime and other after-school hours when viewing among families is high. Stations across the nation will be able to broadcast PBS KIDS shows 24 hours a day on an additional television channel and offer a station-branded live stream through pbskids.org and on the PBS KIDS Video App, available on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Xbox One, and Chromecast.
PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger says, “The assumption was that after 6 at night there wasn’t as much an appetite for kids’ content. But parents say that the time they want public television content is during early evening hours when everyone is just getting home, and they’re trying to make dinner, and we’re not there.”
PBS stations reach more kids aged 2-5, more moms with children under 6 years old, and more children from low-income families than any other kids TV network. PBS KIDS led all networks in improving kids’ behavior with 74 percent of parents saying their child exhibits more positive behavior after engaging with PBS KIDS.
Kerger said, “Parents know that PBS KIDS makes a difference in their children’s lives, which is why so many have said they would value having access to our content throughout the day. Television continues to be the most widely used platform for children’s educational content, especially among low-income families. The new PBS KIDS 24/7 channel and live stream offered by local member stations ensure that educational media is available to all families, all the time and via a platform that works for them. Given that 54% of all children nationwide do not have the opportunity to attend preschool, providing access is a critical element of our public service mission.”
Enabling children to toggle between a PBS KIDS show and an activity that extends learning the live stream experience will expand to offer an integrated games feature. The feature has a background of research indicating that gains in learning are achieved when children engage with PBS KIDS content.The games will align with the learning goals of each TV series, deepening children’s involvement and supporting learning.
Lesli Rotenberg, the broadcaster’s general manager of children’s programming, said, “There’s a huge distinction between the content that’s available through other media providers and PBS. Even though there may be more, there isn’t necessarily more educational content for kids.”
PBS serves all children and attracts a higher proportion of viewers from Hispanic and low-income households, compared to their representation in the U.S. population
A recent study conducted by WestEd found that PBS KIDS resources can help narrow the math achievement gap for children from low-income families and better prepare them for kindergarten. Additionally, parents’ awareness of their children’s math learning increased significantly – as did their use of strategies to support their children’s learning.
The PBS channel will include popular favorites, such as Danel Tigers Neighborhood, Odd Squad, and Wild Kratts, as well as the new series Nature Cat and Ready Jet Go, which debuted February 15. SPLASH, a series from The Jim Henson Company, will premiere in fall 2016.
PBS KIDS claims that its free service is an integral part of PBS’ long-term vision for children and will build on the reach and impact local stations already have in their communities.
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