Kids soon will be able to watch their favorite PBS shows anytime, anywhere.
The network announced the launch of PBS Kids a free, 24-hour digital cable television channel and live stream that will debut later this year.
Local stations will be able to broadcast PBS Kids 24 hours a day. The network aims to make it easy to watch children’s’ series during primetime and other after-school hours, when programming is geared more to adults, PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger told the New York Times.
“The challenge is when a lot of kids are available to be watching, we are broadcasting other things like the ‘NewsHour,’”Kerger said. “There are a lot of children, particularly that are home in early prime time, we aren’t able to accommodate them except for on-demand. Given the fact that there are so many kids where on-demand is not an option, we want to be able to reach those kids.”
After the launch, PBS also plans to expand the live stream to include an integrated games feature, enabling children to toggle between a PBS Kids show and interactive activity that “is grounded in research” and aligns with the educational goals of each series, “deepening children’s involvement and supporting learning,” according to PBS.
“Television continues to be the most widely used platform for children’s educational content, especially among low-income families,” Kerger said in a statement. “The new PBS Kids 24/7 channel and live stream offered by local member stations ensure that educational media is available to all families, all the time and via a platform that works for them. Given that 54% of all children nationwide do not have the opportunity to attend preschool, providing access is a critical element of our public service mission.”
Streaming on PBS Kids currently accounts for nearly half of all time spent watching kids videos online, and averages 419.8 million streams per month across digital platforms, according to the network. In general, kids programming has largely migrated to on-demand streaming platforms, and that trend has made business difficult for networks that used to be hugely successful, such as Nickelodeon.
The PBS Kids 24/7 channel will broadcast popular shows such as Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Odd Squad, Wild Kratts, Dinosaur Train. It will also air Nature Cat and Ready Jet Go!, both of which debuted February 15, as well as Splash, a new series from The Jim Henson Company set to premiere in the fall.
Stations still will broadcast PBS Kids on its current primary PBS channel. Children’s programming between the existing channel and the new PBS Kids 24/7 channel will be different, “to offer families a variety of options.”