Remember when everyone could watch Sesame Street?
By Michael J Melville
Before cable, before Amazon Prime, Netflix, satellite TV, TLC, Discover Channel and the History Channel, many kids, myself included grew up on a channel called PBS. The Public Broadcast Service (WGVU) in my area here in Michigan aired educational programming. I grew up and went to elementary school watching shows that aired on this station during the 80’s.
Sesame Street was the first and foremost among them. I have fond memories of watching this show after school and even during 1st, 2nd, and maybe even 3rd grade while I was in school at South Elementary in Grandville Michigan. I remember going as a class in 2nd grade to the library once a week (maybe more) and watching Sesame Street and the now slightly creepy Letter People.
This the Sesame Street I grew up watching (Property of PBS)
Myself along with many other American kids (and others) grew up learning our shapes, letters, colors and other things from the likes of Grover, Burt & Ernie, Big Bird, Oscar and their human counterparts. I firmly believe Sesame Street played an important and pivotal role in my youth and education while making me a better person. For all intensive purposes shows like Sesame Street and Mr. Roger Neighborhood MADE PBS and I believe are the reason PBS has existed this long and improved in the way that it has.
My son, Jax who just turned a year old already enjoys watching the show and has his own favorites that excite him already. It is nearly an everyday staple in our home added to shows like Sid the Science Kid, Thomas the Train, Dinosaur Train and Daniel Tigers Neighborhood. I can safely assume there are many other households in this same boat.
Yes, the show has changed over the years, but only in most minimal of ways to keep it modern and effective from what I have seen. Sesame Street from my perspective as a parent is just as pure now as it was 30-33 years ago when I first started watching it even before I was in school. When I found out, I was going to be a father it was one of those shows I immediately looked forward to watching with my son when he was old enough.
“By its 40th anniversary in 2009, Sesame Street was the fifteenth highest-rated children’s television show in the United States. A 1996 survey found that 95% of all American preschoolers had watched the show by the time they were three years old. In 2008, it was estimated that 77 million Americans had watched the series as children. As of 2014, Sesame Street has won 159 Emmy Awards and 8 Grammy Awards—more than any other children’s show.” (Wikipedia)
Can Elmo spell HBO
Tonight I was watching NBC news, and they did a story about Sesame Street, which caught my eye and eventually pissed me off. It seems that HBO, which is famous for adult-oriented shows like Game of Thrones and The Sopranos, now owns the rights to that iconic American TV show for 5 years. Yes, you read that right; HBO now owns the rights to Sesame Street.
Instead of doing something, humble, altruistic and good for American kids like putting money into the show or PBS in general HBO just decided to buy the show I guess. That is not even the worst. My understanding is that starting next season all new Sesame Street episodes will air first on HBO and then a mere NINE months later on PBS.
Yes, you read that right. I said NINE whole months, almost a year. Which is fine for households like mine who have HBO (for now) assuming it is made available on On-demand.
However, what about all those households that can’t afford HBO? What about all those kids who do not have access to expanded cable, On-Demand, and whose families rely on PBS and broadcast Television because they cannot afford otherwise? Why are they getting forgotten about and screwed over?
It is disappointing that kids now and future generations may not have FREE access to the most current episodes of a show that has improved and changed the lives of so many for decades. It is disappointing that PBS even allowed this to happen. I would love to know who thought this was really a good idea.
From my own bathroom
It makes me wonder where all that money went from product licenses for all those Sesame Street branded toys, clothing, and children’s items that parents have purchased over the years. Where did all that money go from all those Tickle Me Elmo’s that were the IT Christmas toy on and off for the last several years?
It also makes me wonder what the future holds for the show that is one of those educational cornerstones for so many American kids and still shown in so many classrooms and elementary schools. I should be curious to see just what HBO will do with the show…However, I am not. I am not because I am worried about what they will do TO the show. Why mess with something that is working just fine and that HAS been working just fine for FORTEY FIVE YEARS and you know they will.
There is a reason Sesame Street was on PBS, why it started on PBS way back 1969, and that reason was so ALL kids, rich, poor or in-between had access to the same quality educational programming. Something similar to that line is used every time PBS has their fundraising drives or tries selling one of their shows dvd’s. In fact, Sesame Street is now broadcast in 140 countries all on FREE public television.
I don’t get appalled by much, but I find this action, this course appalling. With this action between PBS and HBO, they are effectively saying that those kids and families who cannot afford HBO are essentially getting the educational leftovers. Unless of course, HBO decides to offer, their channel free of charge and we all know that is not going to happen.
(on a side note I have no recollection AT ALL of Elmo being on “the Street” in the 80’s but apparently he was)