Capitalism: HBO Max locks down exclusive access to new Sesame Street episodes

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Capitalism's inherent inequity that limits valuable access quality early learning and opportunity.

The Verge - October 3, 2019

"Sesame Street was created for public television to give all children access to quality early learning, not to be put behind a paywall for only children with means." ~ CIJ

New episodes of Sesame Street are going to stream exclusively on HBO Max as WarnerMedia shifts the popular kids show over to its upcoming streaming service.

The new deal means parents will have to sign up for HBO Max in order to get access to new Sesame Street episodes as they air, according to Vulture. Episodes will air for free on PBS “at some point” after the episodes debut on HBO Max, Vulture reports, but WarnerMedia plans to use Sesame Street to build out its family content offerings. Sesame Street has aired on HBO since 2015 — a move that was considered controversial when the deal was struck. At HBO Max, the company is planning to launch a series of Sesame Street shows, including a live-action late-night parody hosted by Elmo. The new deal is for five years.

HBO Max hasn’t just scooped up first-look access to new episodes, though. WarnerMedia has also become the exclusive streaming home of Sesame Street’s entire 50-season catalog. This includes episodes that have never been available to stream on demand, according to Vulture.

Kevin Reilly, HBO Max chief content officer, told Vulture the “scope of our partnership with Sesame Workshop is unprecedented,” adding that it’s “the cornerstone of HBO Max’s extensive kids’ offering.”

Having children’s shows is important for the streaming service, which is aimed at providing more than just prestige content for adults. HBO Max is WarnerMedia’s answer to general entertainment platforms like Netflix and Hulu, and the company wants a wide variety of content aimed at various audiences. Incoming competition from Disney and Apple is a particular reason for new strategies: Disney is synonymous with kid-friendly content, and Apple has partnered with DHX Media to produce a series of originals based on Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang for its streaming platform, Apple TV Plus.

The new Sesame Street deal will go into effect in 2020, alongside the premiere of the show’s 51st season. HBO Max does not have a launch date or price at this time, but it’s expected to debut in spring 2020 for a minimum of $15 a month — the same cost as HBO Now.

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