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Sesame Street shrinks to 30 minutes, new shows will premiere on HBO and PBS nine months later

What is the biggest major change Sesame Street has been through in the past 46 years?


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Oscarfan

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Two side notes: I would bet Sonia Manzano's decision to leave was fueled by
(but not caused by) this change. She's been on the show forever and maybe
the increase in episodes was too much or maybe since a big change was
coming she thought: It's a good time to go.
(not apologizing for double posting) (This didn't occur to me until afterward)

I think it's just a coincidence that she left before this deal was made. In SW's own press release about the set changes back in April, it's said the season will start "fall of 2015 on PBS Kids." So, this deal wasn't established then. And at that point, the season had been written and the shows were being shot, without Sonia. So, I'm guessing she told the producers before they started working on the season she would be retiring and she just didn't say it publicly until recently.
 

minor muppetz

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(not apologizing for double posting) (This didn't occur to me until afterward)

I think it's just a coincidence that she left before this deal was made. In SW's own press release about the set changes back in April, it's said the season will start "fall of 2015 on PBS Kids." So, this deal wasn't established then. And at that point, the season had been written and the shows were being shot, without Sonia. So, I'm guessing she told the producers before they started working on the season she would be retiring and she just didn't say it publicly until recently.
Also, Emilio Degardo said on Facebook that he did not know about the HBO deal until the general public did.
 

D'Snowth

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It seems clear the the HBO deal was certainly more of a sudden and spur-of-the-moment kind of thing; with the previous announcements of this upcoming season (the new set, for example), they were slowly building up to them as far as announcing them to the public. The HBO deal is certainly short notice, and since this is more or less between SW and HBO and not necessarily the show's cast and crew, I'm sure most of them probably knew nothing about it ahead of time as well. As has already been pointed out, I doubt Sonia Manzano walked away from the show because she didn't like all of the changes that were being made to the show, I'm sure she just simply wanted to enjoy her retirement, as did Fran Brill.
 

Daffyfan4ever

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Well, you never know. It could have been a little bit of both reasons. I guess that's one of those things that could go either way.
 

Drtooth

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I think it's just a coincidence that she left before this deal was made. In SW's own press release about the set changes back in April, it's said the season will start "fall of 2015 on PBS Kids." So, this deal wasn't established then. And at that point, the season had been written and the shows were being shot, without Sonia. So, I'm guessing she told the producers before they started working on the season she would be retiring and she just didn't say it publicly until recently.
Wait a minute then. It's safe to say that if the HBO deal didn't happen until recently, they didn't exactly fund season 46, which was probably wrapped by then, right? Does this mean that they're going to start the HBO First, 9 months later Public television airings this season? Seems kind of a cheat, really.
 

Drtooth

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I'm going to be completely honest here.

Even with Hasbro getting the license, the problem with the merchandising funding stems from the disappointing nature of the merchandise. Sure, Funko has their Sesame Pops that are excellent... but I'm very disappointed about the lack of collectibles from Hasbro, considering they're very collectors friendly with all their lines...even MLP (especially MLP). I really was hoping to see the two figure play packs become a legitimate line, but it took so long to even get a second series in, and it was just more of the same characters. Meanwhile, no one's buying giant $60+ Elmo gimmick dolls, and haven't since before Elmo Live. That had the distinction of coming out right when the Recession hit.

I've also noticed less and less adult sized shirts as of late. They used to be very common place, now... not so much. You'll find one or two here or there, but not the bonanza we've seen years prior. As someone that frequents the young mens section at every store that sells them, I see lots of Star Wars, lots of comic books, and even odd 90's stuff coming out now... but there's like one sad Cookie Monster shirt there, and that's it.
 

JLG

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Yet none of this cuts to the meat of how things fell so far and so fast, funding-wise. None of these articles, enlightening as they are in other ways, address this. None of the writers seem to be aware of Sesame Street's formerly enormous output of 130 hours a year, which it maintained without a break for nearly two thirds of its history. No one has explained why that was possible for so long and then became impossible within only a five-year span, and as the years went by, became beyond unthinkable.

That last article and Cerf's comments indicate how little a role PBS and government funding had played compared to licensed products. Am I to take this to mean that they were able to fund that enormous amount of production mostly through the sales of license products? That just doesn't seem right...
 

Drtooth

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The corporate sponsorship hasn't been mentioned in any of these articles. It seems the general funding comes from PBS, their merchandising, and corporate sponsorship. And I believe you mentioned something a while back. Surely, there are still "Arthur Vining Davis Foundations" and those little charities that donate en masse to PBS shows, but you really don't hear much of them. Which brings me back to point... the corporate sponsorship doesn't really want to donate what it used to, and the ones that donated the most are the very same companies that Ralph Nader got upper middle income housewives to be all Helen Lovejoy over (as in "Won't someone PLEASE think of the children." I reiterate. For all the crap that they gave Sesame Street having McDonalds as a corporate sponsor they didn't get angry at Sesame Street needing McDonalds sponsorship. Because why worry about a cultural icon being in danger when you can worry about how little Madison and Tyler being fat, like the poor, ethnic kids, and therefore being a bad reflection on them?

So to answer your question, the series of unfortunate events (heh. Book reference) that lead to this is as follows...

  • corporate funding becoming increasingly less altruistic, also smaller companies that can't give more are the only companies that won't look bad on a Press Release.
  • The increase of children's programming by self sustaining companies like Disney and Viacom, especially with emphasis on volume and merchandising.
  • The decrease of kids buying merchandising, especially dying home video formats and expensive gimmick plush toys.
  • The reliance on expensive to produce segments and more focus on expensive to hire celebrity guests than before to keep in competition with the hundreds of other TV shows for preschoolers.
  • And overall reliance on internet media
All seem to come together to make Sesame more and more expensive to produce and less and less self reliant on funding.

That said, the 130 episode a season output was mostly rerun footage repackaged. But even producing those episodes based on reruns is pretty expensive (someone's got to sift through the footage to piece episodes together), so other than absolutely needing that for 2 of the 3 previous seasons, it's easier and cheaper just to rerun reruns PBS already has. I'm more concerned about how they've said that they've only been able to release 18 new episodes a season, when last season had the full 26. Does that mean season 46 would have been a step backward?
 

Oscarfan

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I'm more concerned about how they've said that they've only been able to release 18 new episodes a season, when last season had the full 26. Does that mean season 46 would have been a step backward?
Yeah, that figure is confusing and concerning me. I feel like 18 is something off-handedly said by someone interviewed and it's been run with. The Mashable link says PBS runs a total of 44 shows a "season," even though this year, they had 51.

If you take 18 from 44, you get 26. Maybe that's the mix-up. But, I don't see how they can "repeat" storylines in season 46 to bring it to 26, considering the new set and everything. If it's a mere 18, I wonder which letters/numbers they had to "fire."
 
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