"Sesame Street" is moving — and it will be brought to you by the letters H, B and O.
The next season of the long-running public television show is singing and skipping its way to the premium cable network in a five-year deal announced Thursday. Episodes of the children's classic will also be shortened from one hour to a half-hour.
But fans of "Sesame Street" accustomed to watching it on PBS for the past 45 years won't be without their beloved Big Bird. As part of the deal, the show's older episodes will continue to air on public television — reedited in new ways — and then after nine months, the HBO episodes will begin airing on PBS and its member stations.
Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit that produces the show, said it will even increase the number of episodes it produces, from 18 per year to 35, and create a "Sesame Street" spin-off about the Muppets.
"Our new partnership with HBO represents a true winning public-private partnership model," Jeffrey Dunn, Sesame Workshops CEO, said in a statement. "It provides Sesame Workshop with the critical funding it needs to be able to continue production of 'Sesame Street' and secure its nonprofit mission of helping kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder."
Only a fraction of the show's funding comes from PBS, and the Sesame Workshop has relied on licensing revenue to keep the production running. But that income has been in decline because more viewers are using streaming and on-demand services.
In a statement, HBO executives hailed the show as "the most important preschool education program in the history of television."
While the premium cable network's most popular programming has been adult-themed dramas, such as "The Sopranos" and "Game of Thrones," it has produced and aired other children's shows over the years, including Jim Henson's "Fraggle Rock."