Your Thoughts: Half-hour Sesame Street begins on PBS September 1, 2014

Phillip

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For the first time in 45 years, PBS will begin airing a shortened 30-minute version of Sesame Street (without "Abby's Flying Fairy School" and "Elmo the Musical").

The half-hour Sesame Street will air in the afternoons usually around 1-3 pm weekdays and a few are airing it much later in the day around 5-6 pm. It seems that not all markets are airing this version of the program. Check local listings for times and availability in your area.

For now, the plan appears to be that the hour-long version of the show will continue on in the mornings as well. So initially this is a great move as it adds another 30-minutes of Sesame Street to PBS each day. The 60-minute and 30-minute shows will vary in content so that the same segments are usually not shown in the morning and afternoon. We'll know more as these programs begin to air.

Since every other kids show on PBS in 30 minutes and due to the increased costs of production, I can't help but wonder if PBS is testing the waters to see if a 30-minute Sesame Street is just as viable as the 60-minute version. Even if a potential phase-out happened slowly over the next few years, maybe the days of a 60-minute Sesame Street are numbered (so to speak). PBS and Sesame Workshop both want the show to reach the historic 50 year milestone so this could potentially be seen as a way of gearing up interest in the show for the older kids while indeed testing the waters on this new format. Time will tell.

The scheduled half-hour premiere episode is "Baby Bear is Afraid of Bees." By the way it will be interesting to see how Sesame Workshop numbers these programs if they are numbered at all.

In addition to airing on PBS stations, selected episodes of the 30-minute show will also be available for free online at pbskids.org/video, on the PBS KIDS Video App, on Apple TV and on the PBS KIDS Roku channel.


Here's an article from the NY Times about the change...

PBS Plans to Add a Shorter Version of ‘Sesame Street’
JUNE 17, 2014

Viewers of “Sesame Street”‘ are about to get a big lesson in how to divide in half and multiply by 150 percent.

For nearly 45 years, the much-lauded PBS program that teaches children the alphabet, social skills and how to count, has been an hour long, a stalwart holdout in an era of half-hour programs. But this fall, in a nod to the realities of increased mobile and online viewing and the heightened competition for preschool viewers, PBS will begin broadcasting and streaming a half-hour version of “Sesame Street.”

PBS planned to announce on Wednesday that the shorter version of the show would join PBS’s afternoon lineup starting Sept. 1. In addition, select half-hour episodes will be streamed on the PBS website, its mobile app and the PBS Roku channel. It will be the first time that PBS has had the rights to stream more than clips of the show.

The traditional hourlong version of “Sesame Street” will continue to be broadcast in the morning, so the net effect will be 50 percent more “Sesame Street” on PBS each day.

Use of the PBS Kids Video app has jumped sharply in the last year, even as PBS’s broadcast ratings for its children’s programming have slumped, PBS officials acknowledged. For mobile viewing, “30 minutes is about as long as you can get,” said Lesli Rotenberg, PBS’s general manager of children’s programming. “The hourlong show didn’t lend itself as well to that.”

Adding the half-hour to the broadcast lineup, she said, “is a great opportunity to expand its footprint.”

Terry Fitzpatrick, chief content and distribution officer at Sesame Workshop, the producer of “Sesame Street,” said that as an hourlong show, “it was always difficult to get the second play” on PBS’s afternoon lineup, when more children are watching TV.

While older children tend to control which shows are watched in the afternoon, many households are preschool-age only, and having a preschool-targeted program in the time slot will be “a great alternative for those kids,” said Linda Simensky, PBS’s vice president of children’s programming.

The half-hour “Sesame Street” will be a condensed version of the traditional show, with a “Street Story,” “Word on the Street” and letter and number “dance breaks,” but no features like “Elmo the Musical” or “Abby’s Flying Fairy School.” Mr. Fitzpatrick said it would “still be hitting the whole-child curriculum.”

Dr. Michael Rich, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the Center on Media and Child Health in Boston, said the addition of a half-hour “Sesame Street” appeared to be a response to the realities of today’s media households. “From the consumer standpoint, it’s more useful,” he said. A shorter version also corresponds better to preschool attention spans, he said, adding that even if children are sitting in front of the hourlong show, “they zone out.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/18/b...same-street-in-bid-for-more-viewers.html?_r=0


If you saw the new 30-minute Sesame Street, please like this post and share your thoughts below.
 

Oscarfan

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I don't see how doing a half-hour is cheaper, since the hour-long has that much re-used footage anyway.

And I think these will not be numbered "44xx" or "45xx". The half-hour version is airing in a few minutes on my station, so I'll see, but I think those numbers are used for other repeats.
 

D'Snowth

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What exactly is the point of all this? Why go through all the trouble, time, and effort to cobble together two different versions of the same episode? Can't they just air the same episode twice a day like they used to? Wouldn't that save the production and editing staff a lot of time?
 

Drtooth

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I don't see how doing a half-hour is cheaper, since the hour-long has that much re-used footage anyway.
It's probably because PBS would refuse to let them run it twice a day at an hour each. Somehow, it feels like they needed a half hour to fill. I'm miffed because that half hour my station took would wind up kicking WordGirl off the single afternoon slot. As for the episode itself, I shouldn't feel unimpressed because it was logical they'd just take an older episode and edit it down, but I feel unimpressed. Seems they lost the opportunity to cobble together new reruns, but editing them was just quicker and easier.
 

ssetta

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I just watched it, and I have to say it really is not all that exciting. I thought there would maybe be a thing or two in the half hour version that wasn't in the original version, but that does not seem to be the case. I will say that if you've been anxious to check out this new half hour version, don't be. Its not worth it. It is merely the original version of the show with portions edited out to make it 30 minutes long. So basically, if you've already seen the hour version, theres no reason to check out the half hour version.
 

Muppet Master

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Wow, I expected this to be like a new SS, but is it just really the show cropped?
 

Oscarfan

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Here's a rundown of what was in it:

  • WOTS Opening
  • Theme (without an ep #, strangely)
  • Street Story
  • Celeb. Word Spot
  • Murray's Bring Out Your F
  • Song: Six at Sea
  • B&E Adventure - Flower Shop
  • Sounds of the Street
  • Honeybee Song
  • Sponsors
Eh. I don't have to watch these regularly, so I don't mind. I wasn't expecting much. It seems a little faster paced than the regular show. The credits were also at 2x speed.
 

Muppet Master

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Here's a rundown of what was in it:

  • WOTS Opening
  • Theme (without an ep #, strangely)
  • Street Story
  • Celeb. Word Spot
  • Murray's Bring Out Your F
  • Song: Six at Sea
  • B&E Adventure - Flower Shop
  • Sounds of the Street
  • Honeybee Song
  • Sponsors
Eh. I don't have to watch these regularly, so I don't mind. I wasn't expecting much. It seems a little faster paced than the regular show. The credits were also ate 2x speed.
So, what is the point of lessening the show's running time by half, and airing in the afternoon? Why not just air the hour long SS in the afternoons like they used to do before?
 

Oscarfan

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So, what is the point of lessening the show's running time by half, and airing in the afternoon? Why not just air the hour long SS in the afternoons like they used to do before?
Because an hour-long show in the middle of the afternoon surrounded by half-hour ones works better, viewing-wise. This is just how things are done.

I don't have a problem with it, just so long as they can keep the hour-long and half-hour versions. An hour is a long time by kids show-standards, but there's a lot more they can put in it.
 

Phillip

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What exactly is the point of all this? Why go through all the trouble, time, and effort to cobble together two different versions of the same episode? Can't they just air the same episode twice a day like they used to? Wouldn't that save the production and editing staff a lot of time?
So, what is the point of lessening the show's running time by half, and airing in the afternoon? Why not just air the hour long SS in the afternoons like they used to do before?
Some official statements from the above article on the reasons for the change...

Use of the PBS Kids Video app has jumped sharply in the last year, even as PBS’s broadcast ratings for its children’s programming have slumped, PBS officials acknowledged. For mobile viewing, “30 minutes is about as long as you can get,” said Lesli Rotenberg, PBS’s general manager of children’s programming. “The hourlong show didn’t lend itself as well to that.”

Adding the half-hour to the broadcast lineup, she said, “is a great opportunity to expand its footprint.”

Terry Fitzpatrick, chief content and distribution officer at Sesame Workshop, the producer of “Sesame Street,” said that as an hourlong show, “it was always difficult to get the second play” on PBS’s afternoon lineup, when more children are watching TV.

While older children tend to control which shows are watched in the afternoon, many households are preschool-age only, and having a preschool-targeted program in the time slot will be “a great alternative for those kids,” said Linda Simensky, PBS’s vice president of children’s programming.

The half-hour “Sesame Street” will be a condensed version of the traditional show, with a “Street Story,” “Word on the Street” and letter and number “dance breaks,” but no features like “Elmo the Musical” or “Abby’s Flying Fairy School.” Mr. Fitzpatrick said it would “still be hitting the whole-child curriculum.”

Dr. Michael Rich, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the Center on Media and Child Health in Boston, said the addition of a half-hour “Sesame Street” appeared to be a response to the realities of today’s media households. “From the consumer standpoint, it’s more useful,” he said. A shorter version also corresponds better to preschool attention spans, he said, adding that even if children are sitting in front of the hourlong show, “they zone out.”
As I mentioned above, long-term this could potentially be the beginning of the end of the hour-long version of Sesame Street, if the 30-minute version proves significantly more successful. It may take years for this to happen but it gives PBS an existing library of 30-minute programs already in the can if such a change was to occur.
 
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