Changes are coming to Sesame Street ahead of the series’ 56th season. The long-running children’s show returns in 2025 with longer, narrative-driven segments and an animated companion series, Tales From 123.
Sesame Street will move away from its “magazine” format of showing short segments to expand the show to two eleven-minute stories, with Tales From 123 airing as an intermission between segments. The cartoon will take audiences inside 123 Sesame Street, “the most famous apartment building in the world.”
“With any change you have evolutions, and then you have things that are slightly bigger steps, while still staying core to who we are,” said Steve Youngwood, chief executive officer of Sesame Workshop, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “We felt like this was a moment to step back and think bigger about how we evolve it.”
This is the biggest change for Sesame Street since 2016, when its runtime was cut from an hour to 30 minutes, rounded off by an animated segment called Elmo’s World. The series has been a childhood favorite since its debut on November 10, 1969. The show was created by Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrissett, who wanted to develop programming to prepare disadvantaged children for school.
Sesame Street grew in popularity over the decades with characters like Big Bird, Elmo, Snuffaluffagus, and The Count. The series inspired two films, Follow That Bird and Elmo in Grouchland, as well as made character appearances in several Muppet movies.
Kay Wilson Stallings, executive vice president and chief creative development and production officer for Sesame Workshop, describes the change as a “reimagining” of Sesame Street and a chance to offer more “dynamic” and “sophisticated” stories, said The Hollywood Reporter. The storylines will be broken into A and B stories with a focus on an overarching lesson for young audiences.
“Both the A story and the B story will come together in some way to really help with whatever curricular focus that we’re trying to have, what lesson we’re trying to make,” said Wilson. “Kids love a little bit of peril, they love having emotional stakes, and in nine minutes, it’s kind of hard to really dive into those areas really effectively. And so, by opening up these segments and making them longer, it’s going to give us an opportunity to really serve up what we know from research, what we know from across the industry, what we know from our curriculum and education experts, what we know kids are looking for.”
The new season of Sesame Street will feature a signature song for each episode, and Stallings hopes to bring in some famous singers to perform them. Muppets will also break the fourth wall and speak directly to kids for a more immersive experience.
Max hosts 50 seasons of Sesame Street, but its deal with Warner Bros. Discovery ends after the current season concludes. Warner Bros. hasn’t confirmed it will renew the contract, leaving the series potentially open to find a home on a new streaming service, coinciding with the launch of its new format.
“The fact that it aligns with where we go after the current Warner deal is over, it just happens to be where the time is,” Youngwood told The Hollywood Reporter. “We always want to be relevant to the audience. We always want to give the audience some reasons to watch the new [episodes] while they can still watch the library.”