Season 46 of iconic children’s series Sesame Street will launch on HBO Jan. 16. The series will feature 30-minute episodes, as opposed to the previous hour, will have new opening and closing songs, an updated set, a Cookie-Monster helmed segment called “Smart Cookies”, and a new cast member.
Sesame Street ran on PBS for 45 years. In August, HBO and Sesame Workshop struck a deal to bring the series to HBO for five years. HBO plans to produce 35 episodes a season, nearly twice what was produced on PBS.
The shorter episodes will help kids “focus their attention and engage with each story,” according to HBO.
Two episodes will debut at 9:00 a.m. ET Jan. 16. Every Saturday thereafter, a new episode will debut at 9. New installments will also debut simultaneously on HBO Latino and will be dubbed in Spanish.
The shows will air on PBS Kids next fall.
“Families will see fun and fresh changes to Sesame Street and can depend on their favorite Muppet friends to provide them with engaging and educational content,” said Brown Johnson, executive VP and creative director, Sesame Workshop. “We’re excited to bring the timeless lessons of Sesame Street to HBO viewers, like learning numbers from The Count, inner strength from Elmo and kindness from Abby.”
The cast’s new addition is Nina, a “young, bilingual, Hispanic woman” who “uses her wit, compassion and charisma” to help the Sesame Street denizens solve their problems. Played by Suki Lopez, Nina works at the laundromat and the bike store.
“I am so excited for kids to explore our updated neighborhood and discover where their favorite characters live,” said Carol-Lynn Parente, executive producer. “Sesame Street has always been the ideal play date for preschoolers. Now, that play date is focused on topics and themes that are very engaging to kids, with our signature educational messages embedded into laughter and music.”
Gwen Stefani, Nick Jonas, Ne-Yo and Gina Rodriguez are among the guests.
Produced by Sesame Workshop, Sesame Street is underwritten in part by Beaches Resorts, United Healthcare and Party City.