45 Years of Sunny Days on Sesame Street

Characters from Sesame Street Live appear on the street by Madison Square Garden to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the live touring stage shows based on the PBS television series in New York, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2010. From left are Ernie, Bert, Elmo, Cookie Monster (foreground), Abby Cadabby, and Zoe. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

New York, NY – (WTNH) Before “Sprout,” “Nickelodeon” and “Disney Junior” provided preschoolers with around-the-clock television entertainment (and sometimes a little education), there was “Sesame Street.” It’s the show that — pardon the pun — paved the way for children’s television in this country. And today, it turns a grown-up 45.

Parents who introduce the show to their little ones today will still recognize many of the main Muppet characters. Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Oscar and Bert and Ernie all still call Sesame Street home. So do their human friends Bob, Gordon and Susan. Those three have been with the show from the start on November 10th, 1969. But, the show itself has evolved over the years. It’s changed with the times — both in presentation and distribution. For example, understanding that children may want to follow his example, Cookie Monster has learned the importance working some fruits and vegetables into his diet. These days, celebrities mom and dad will recognize routinely stop by to visit. And the viewing habits of kids are mirroring those of their parents, as more watch the show on the computer or on some sort of device rather than on their local PBS station.

Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization behind the show, says the traditional TV version of “Sesame Street” still does well in the ratings, despite all the competition. It ranks 20th among kids ages 2 to 5. But perhaps more important, the show has launched all kinds of interactive teaching opportunities. “Sesame Street” Senior Vice President Scott Chambers calls touchscreen apps “a magic wand in terms of engagement.” He says kids can demonstrate how they well they are learning shapes, colors and letters as they watch and play.

Those celebrity guests — stars like Peter Dinklage, Will Arnett and Tom Bergeron — help “Sesame Street” boast the highest “co-viewing” experience — meaning adults watching with kids — of any preschool show. 49% “Sesame Street” viewers are over the age of 18. Another factor could be the show’s efforts to to tackle current events — like the post-Superstorm Sandy episode that saw Big Bird lose his home in a hurricane. But one of the biggest factors for parents of a certain age, is the strong sense of nostalgia evoked by watching Sesame Street with their children.


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