PBS to launch free round-the-clock children's TV

Posted at 11:36 AM, Feb 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-23 11:36:04-05

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Young insomniacs are in luck: PBS is launching an around-the-clock channel for children this fall.

The free, 24-hour channel will provide child-friendly fare during prime-time and other periods that draw kids, said Paula Kerger, PBS' chief executive. Member stations now get up to 12 hours daily of kids' programming from PBS.

The service also will be available online as a live stream on the website and on the PBS Kids video app for mobile devices and platforms such as Roku and Apple TV. Within about three months, a live-stream component will be added to allow children to toggle between a show and an online activity that extends learning, Kerger said.

PBS' announcement comes amid a flurry of growth in children's programming on TV and the Internet, with heavyweight players including Netflix, HBO and Amazon.

"Although we're proud of everything we've done in early childhood education, we feel there's more that can be done," Kerger said. The combined TV-plus-online approach builds on PBS' robust on-demand offerings, she said, but also is mindful of children in homes that rely on "good old-fashioned television."

"We, like everyone else, are following that kids are in many different places," she said.

Public TV stations reach more youngsters ages 2 to 5 and more from low-income families than any other children's network, PBS said. Both parents and stations were asking for additional programming, Kerger said.

The new channel will include PBS series "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood," ''Odd Squad" and new series "Nature Cat" and "Ready Jet Go!" Longtime public TV program "Sesame Street" was not included in the announcement, but PBS said the full schedule remains in development.

Last year, Sesame Workshop announced a five-year deal with HBO to debut new "Sesame Street" episodes first on HBO and related platforms, to be rerun later nine months later on PBS.

Public TV stations will be able to provide the new channel alongside their current primary PBS channel, which will continue to include children's programming blocks, PBS said. The schedule of shows on the primary channel will differ from the new one to allow for viewer choices, the public TV service said.