The US Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) has awarded PBS KIDS with a US$5.6-million grant earmarked for digital innovation. The grant will help fund a number of projects including the creation of integrated video and gaming experiences for children, as well as short-form video content and community engagement endeavors around the recently launched PBS KIDS 24/7 channel and live stream.
The PBS KIDS 24/7 channel launched in January and provides anytime access to educational content both on-air and through digital platforms. Provided by local PBS stations, the channel is available to more than 90% of TV households across the US and is also streamed through pbskids.org as well as on the free PBS KIDS Video app for mobile, tablet and OTT streaming devices like Apple TV and Roku.
The CPB grant will allow PBS to fund research and development for the channel, integrating 24/7 live linear television, video-on-demand and gaming. PBS will also pilot new forms of children’s content with expanded distribution on multiple platforms, while also experimenting with educational interactivity within TV and streaming video content and developing PBS station engagement strategies to support low-income families.
According to CPB, the grant is part of an ongoing commitment to ensure that all children have access to free and cutting-edge content experiences. Previously, the nonprofit corporation has supported PBS in the development of PBS KIDS’ Kart Kingdom (pictured), an immersive online world for kids aged six to nine that provides an innovative digital engagement platform for PBS KIDS series.
In 2015, a Ready to Learn grant from the US Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement provided CPB and PBS KIDS with US$19 million in the first year of a five-year grant to support the creation of science and literacy-based programming, mobile apps and online games. The funds also prompted PBS KIDS to develop a variety of new media properties focused on scientific inquiry and literacy.
The CPB funds come as PBS KIDS and The Fred Rogers Company announce a fourth season of the popular preschool series Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. The new season will feature 20 episodes as well as a one-hour special, and is set to premiere in summer 2018. And in terms of interactive elements, The Fred Rogers Company and its licensing agent Out of the Blue Enterprises have tapped Cottage Door Press to develop a range of electronic sound books for the Daniel Tiger brand. The range of interactive board books will include audio features and are set to arrive at retail across North America in fall 2018.