PBS is giving its children’s programming brand its own 24-hour channel, debuting PBS Kids across 75 member stations nationwide Jan. 16, with the channel offering more than 20 series — from Bob the Builder to Sesame Street — at launch.
PBS expects as many as 108 licensees to pick up the channel in 2017, which would have PBS Kids available to approximately 90% of American households. The channel can also be streamed live at pbskids.org, and the already available PBS Kids app.
“By offering PBS Kids programming 24/7, PBS stations will extend the reach and impact that they already have in their communities, where they provide essential services for families,” said PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger, in a statement. “With the launch of the multi-platform 24/7 PBS Kids channel, all of America’s children will be able to access our trusted educational content anywhere, anytime and through any device.
“As the only free national 24/7 kids’ TV service in the U.S., the PBS Kids channel will be a game changer for all families — especially our nation’s most underserved, many of whom do not attend preschool and rely solely on over-the-air television for media content.”
PBS plans to integrate educational games with its programming, and beginning April 21 will debut dedicated family-night programming, featuring movies and themed content, airing 7-9 p.m. each Friday, with repeats over the weekend during the same time block. Slated for the first “PBS Kids Family Night” slots are Odd Squad: The Movie, Splash and Bubbles: One Big Ocean, and Sesame Street: The Cookie Thief.
“We know from years of research that PBS Kids helps children build important social-emotional and school readiness skills, and that the learning potential of media is multiplied when parents co-view with their children,” Lesli Rotenberg, senior VP and GM of children’s media and education for PBS, said in a statement. “We are encouraged to see how much parents value family viewing time, ranking PBS Kids as the No. 1 use of family screen time, because parent involvement is critical to our long-term vision of using the power of media to create a personalized learning experience that engages and meets the needs of kids, parents and teachers.”