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Sesame Street is about to get an exclusive home on WarnerMedia’s new streaming service HBO Max, and many are not happy about it.
According to Deadline, a new five-year contract between Sesame Workshop and WarnerMedia will relocate the show’s entire 50-year library online–about 4,500 episodes. HBO Max has also ordered five new 35-episode seasons of the beloved children’s educational show. The new projects will include four new live-action and animated series, an animated Sesame Street spinoff, and annual specials.
Back in 2015, the show moved to HBO after the company got a contract to exclusively host its new content. According to the old contract–which is about to expire after the upcoming 50th season of the show–new episodes of Sesame Street were only available on HBO for the first nine months after they aired, but made their way back to PBS after that period. The new contract will be similar, but it is unclear how long the streaming service will maintain exclusivity rights before episodes become available for free.
Not long after the announcement was made, people began pointing out that the show was originally created to give all children access to fun, quality, and educational television for free. And now that it will be exclusively streaming on HBO Max, a subscription to which costs $14.99 a month, accessibility concerns are being raised.
“There are so many upsetting things about this but most of all, Sesame Street was literally created as a supplement for education and social and emotional development for poor kids who didn’t have access to better education in public schools,” Twitter user @literElly wrote.
I grew up in a trailer park with Sesame Street. My family was never able to afford HBO when I was growing up. I'm so sad for all the kids who will grow up without the show. https://t.co/GI4nVXrYM4— Dominick Evans (@dominickevans) October 3, 2019
IDK wasn't Sesame Street at one time made for every kid to have access to it? https://t.co/S020XngkbU— Box Brown (@boxbrown) October 3, 2019
Umm the point of Sesame Street was open access for everyone https://t.co/55Futyr64J— STEMLORD & Mysterious Internet Personality (@upulie) October 4, 2019
The Intercept writer Sam Biddle said the move “sucks” and is “gross.” “We all wonder why little kids are watching so much free garbage on youtube,” Biddle tweeted.
this really sucks and is gross. and we all wonder why little kids are watching so much free garbage on youtube https://t.co/HI2IVEIp8u— Sam Biddle (@samfbiddle) October 3, 2019
Another equated the move to gentrification. “Gentrifying Sesame Street into a ‘renewed’ brownstone neighborhood where the black kids who grew up on the show would get the cops called on them is just *chef’s kiss,*” Twitter user @ztsamudzi wrote.
Gentrifying Sesame Street into a “renewed” brownstone neighborhood where the black kids who grew up on the show would get the cops called on them is just *chef’s kiss* https://t.co/I90XUjT6AF— inorganic african feminist (@ztsamudzi) October 5, 2019
Another pointed out that similar criticism when HBO bought Sesame Street was warranted, as proven by this new development. “Well, fuck the kids now, I guess,” Twitter user @K_trendacosta wrote.
Hey, remember when HBO bought Sesame Street and everyone was like "this is bad" and capitalism was like "no it's fine, HBO promised to keep making it free for everyone, just later" yeah, well, fuck the kids now, I guess. https://t.co/04MBRtSm4j— Katharine Trendacosta (@k_trendacosta) October 3, 2019
HBO Max is expected to launch in April of 2020.
Tiffanie Drayton is a geek culture and lifestyle reporter whose work covers everything from gender and race to anime and Xbox. Her work has appeared in Complex, Salon, Marie Claire, Playboy, and elsewhere.