Why Sesame Workshop retooled its SVOD service

At first Sesame Street Go featured long-form content only, but audiences aren't happy with just one format, says distribution head Scott Chambers.
November 28, 2014

It can be daunting for new SVOD services to enter the fray, even when they come with the backing of 45 years of experience in kids entertainment.

But Sesame Street is proving that even a legacy brand can stay nimble.

This week Sesame Workshop, the educational non-profit behind the program, relaunched its streaming app and web service that initially debuted back in April. Until now, the platform only offered full-length TV episodes, but after 6 months of garnering user feedback and doing research, the company is expanding its content offering to go beyond long-form video.

“Over 63% of our audience is first introduced to Sesame Street on digital platforms.”

Given its recent accomplishments — celebrating 45 years on air and marking 1.5 billion views for its YouTube channel — moving into the SVOD  space was the next natural step for Sesame Workshop. Sesame Street Go costs $3.99 per month or $29.99 per year. Now, content on the platform includes 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.

“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 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 multi-platform experience, 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 3-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 Street Classics Volumes 1 and 2. It’s even caught the eye of tech giant Google, which licensed the service to be streamed on TVs using Chromecast.

From Kidscreen

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