10:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Sesame Workshop, Apple Team for Slate of Children's Programming
Apple is entering the children's programming space.
The tech giant on Wednesday unveiled a sweeping deal with Sesame Street producers Sesame Workshop that will include multiple live-action and animated series plus a puppet show. The pact does not include Sesame Street, which remains under its five-year deal with HBO, which runs through 2020.
This marks Apple's first foray into children's programming under worldwide video heads Zack Van Amberg and Jamie Erlicht for the division overseen by former Amazon kids programming topper Tara Sorensen. Van Amburg is said to have personally led the charge for the Sesame Workshop deal.
The agreement signals Apple's aggressive entry into the competitive youth programming arena that has, like the scripted space, exploded with content and matching price tags thanks to competition from streamers like Netflix challenging traditional outlets including Nickelodeon and Disney Channel. To that end, Netflix recently hired Melissa Cobb to head its children's programming division after Disney announced it would pull kid-friendly content, including animated Pixar content, from the streaming giant as it launched its own SVOD platform. Starz also recently signaled a greater push for kids programming on its platforms.
Financial terms of the Apple deal were not immediately available.
Under the deal, Emmy-winning nonprofit media and educational organization Sesame Workshop will develop a slate of children's programming. The pact expands Sesame Workshop's presence on Apple, which is already the home for multiple e-books, applications and video content.
The HBO deal helped pave the way for Sesame Workshop to produce twice as much new content as previous seasons, with the premium cable network also landing the Sesame Street library. The Apple deal will see that number of originals under the Sesame Workshop label expand well beyond that with multiple series, including a Sesame Street-like puppet show.
This year, Sesame Workshop won more Daytime Emmy Awards than any other children's production company. Last year, Sesame Workshop received the first-ever $100 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation as well as an American Ingenuity Award from the Smithsonian Institution. Sesame Workshop features heavily researched and tested curricula in all content, with more than a thousand studies illustrating Sesame Street's positive impact in the U.S. and around the world. Content from Sesame Workshop is often cited by groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics as model education for children.
In the U.S., Sesame Street will continue to be broadcast daily on HBO and PBS, which has been its original home since launching nearly 50 years ago.