With the streaming wars heating up between Netflix and Amazon, it can be daunting for new SVOD services to enter the fray. But when they come with the backing of a 45-year legacy in kids entertainment, the odds are much improved. Such is the case for Sesame Workshop, which launched new SVOD app and web service Sesame Street GO this week.
Given its recent accomplishments—celebrating 45 years on air and marking 1.5 billion views for its YouTube channel—moving into the SVOD space seems like the next natural step for Sesame Workshop.
Free to download, Sesame Street GO is available for US$3.99 per month or US$29.99 per year. Sesame Street fans can swipe through a wealth of content, including full-length TV episodes, short-form “minisodes” like The Hungry Games: Catching Fur, or Don’t Eat the Guests from new series The Furchester Hotel, as well as interactive games and music.
Initially released earlier this year as Sesame GO, the service started off as a paid web offering that let users watch full-length episodes. After six months of garnering user feedback and doing research, Sesame Workshop retooled the offering, expanding its content beyond long-form video.
“Today’s audience, ours and others, isn’t happy with just one thing,” says Scott Chambers, Sesame Workshop SVP of Worldwide Media Distribution. “People want short-form clips and more interactivity like games that they can play either on our website or PBSKIDS.org. They want the ability to personalize the experience in many different ways, to be able to pull up the content their child really and truly enjoys more than other content.”
Along with providing kids a multiplatform experience—and giving Cookie Monster even more ways to get those tantalizing baked goods—the new digital offering is also key for engagement.
“PBS and television, for us, is still by far the single largest platform in terms of engagement and more specifically acquisition,” notes Chambers. “However, over 63% of our audience is first introduced to Sesame Street on various digital platforms. That’s an amazing shift. If you went back even 10 years, it would be a completely different picture. The opportunity to reach our audience via an over-the-top or almost pervasive media experience that can be discoverable across platforms is critical.”
To respond to changing media usage, Sesame Workshop included an offline capability in the app. As the target demo is preschoolers, safety and ease-of-use were also must-haves. “We developed a web offering so easy to use that even a three-year-old could navigate, and it’s safe because there’s no advertising,” explains Chambers.
Available through any internet browser, and optimized for computers, tablets and mobile devices, the service comes with hundreds of full-length episodes from prior seasons and Sesame Classics Volume 1 and 2. It’s even caught the eye of tech giant Google, which licensed the service to be streamed on TVs using Chromecast. This lets families access the content at any time.
“We want to access our favorite shows and games on whatever platform we’re using, at any time we want,” notes Chambers. “Sesame Street GO addresses all of that, and enables our audience to reach us when they want to reach us.”