PBS Kids, the children’s programming block of PBS, will soon be getting its own 24-hour digital TV subchannel. PBS announced that
sometime this fall on January 16, 2017, PBS Kids will debut a nationally broadcast PBS Kids service. Shows that’ll air on the new channel include “Wild Kratts,” “Dinosaur Train,” and “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.”
PBS also plans to offer the service as a digital live stream, available online as well as on set-top devices (Roku, Apple TV, etc.). There’ll also be companion interactive games offered online. The existing PBS Kids apps will continue to be available, offering a library of on-demand programming.
The reason for the service, as stated by Paula Kerger, PBS’ chief executive:
The idea for PBS Kids arose, in part, because children are watching programs all day, not just in the morning and after school.
“The challenge is when a lot of kids are available to be watching, we are broadcasting other things like the ‘NewsHour,’ ” Ms. Kerger said. “There are a lot of children, particularly that are home in early prime time, we aren’t able to accommodate them except for on-demand. Given the fact that there are so many kids where on-demand is not an option, we want to be able to reach those kids.”
I assume most PBS affiliates will air the new PBS Kids subchannel in 720p, given they’ll already be carrying other subchannels. Many PBS affiliates already had their own kids programming on a subchannel, which the national service will now replace.
I’ll expect this service to be pretty popular with families. They’ll appreciate an alternative in evening hours to Nickelodeon (when it switches to Nick At Nite) or Cartoon Network (when it signs off for the adults-only Adult Swim). While I wouldn’t expect kids to be up at 2 AM watching “Peg + Cat,” it’s nice that the option’s there.