At first blush, HBO may seem like a strange home for “Sesame Street.”
After all, the premium network is known more for the sexually-charged drama “Game of Thrones” than as a place where Big Bird teaches kids how to spell.
HBO’s move highlights a shift in the kinds of content streaming services offer. Since these services don’t have to worry about what’s being played at any given moment, they have the opportunity to go after niche programming like children’s TV so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
That puts streaming services at a big advantage. For a relatively low cost, you can get a bundle of great content that’s available any time on demand.
As Ben Thompson, the founder of the tech news site Stratechery, wrote to subscribers of his newsletter on Tuesday, streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Now don’t have to focus on only one kind of programming that draws the most viewers at a certain time. Rather, because the content is all available on-demand, streaming services can have a wide-range of movies and TV shows.
…the unique advantage of a streaming service is that it is not constrained by a linear programming guide: anything in the catalogue is available at anytime. By extension, that means niches are really valuable: instead of focusing on programming that gains the maximum number of viewers in a given time slot, an over-the-top service should focus on a collection of content that appeals to as many different niches as possible…
Sesame Street helps HBO in this regard in two ways: if you have kids it makes it more viable for HBO to be your only streaming service; alternately, if your kids must watch Sesame Street, then you’ll have to subscribe.
HBO, for example, is no longer just a traditional TV channel with set times for certain shows that can only fit in 24 hours of programming each day. It doesn’t need to make sure that it broadcasts children’s shows at a certain time and shows for adults later.
With HBO Now, the standalone streaming service that came out in April, it’s more like Netflix — a repository of a wide range of programming, any of which can be watched anytime and on nearly any device.
Even people who subscribe to HBO through their TV providers and have HBO as a channel have access to HBO’s entire catalogue on demand through HBO Go, the streaming app for subscribers, or the pay TV provider’s video-on-demand catalogue.
As I wrote last week when HBO announced the agreement with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit that puts out “Sesame Street,” including family programming on HBO is essential to broadening the appeal of the service, which competes with both Netflix and Amazon but at $US15 per month, which is significantly more expensive.
It’s a lot easier to justify that $US15 per month for “Game of Thrones” and “True Detective” if your kids can watch hundreds of episodes of programming from “Sesame Workshop,” anytime and on any device.
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