Hulu, YouTube, iTunes take a walk on Sesame Street

NEW YORK Mon Nov 10, 2008 6:12pm EST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street? Yes: on iTunes, Hulu and YouTube.

After almost four decades on Public Broadcasting Service-affiliated television stations, the popular children's program "Sesame Street" is moving to the Internet.

Fans of Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Bert and Ernie and the Count will be able to see episodes and clips of the show in three ways, according to a statement released by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit group once known as the Children's Television Workshop and that started Sesame Street.

The announcement comes on the same day that "Sesame Street," which is broadcast in 140 countries, celebrates its 39th year on the air.

On Apple Inc's iTunes store, people can download full episodes from season 35 and onward for $1.99.

The episodes complement existing Sesame Street programing on iTunes, such as "Talk, Listen, Connect" for children whose parents are deployed in military action, and "Happy Healthy Ready for School" featuring the furry, red creature Elmo.

Sesame Workshop will get 70 percent of the revenue in the iTunes deal, but the number of viewers is not likely to be a big one at first, said Terry Fitzpatrick, Sesame's vice president of distribution.

"It's an area we certainly hope grows," he said, declining to give a specific projection.

Google Inc's YouTube will start a Sesame Street channel with more than 100 clips from the show. Many people already have loaded clips from the show on their own, including Monsterpiece Theater installments like "Me, Claudius" and the episode in which the adult characters explain to Big Bird the death of the beloved Mr. Hooper.

Hulu, an online video venture between News Corp and General Electric Co's NBC, will feature 100 Sesame Street segments and 30 other segments featuring celebrity actor guests such as Julia Roberts and Laurence Fishburne.

Now, as before, Sesame Street's audience is composed mostly of young children, though there are adults who enjoy the nostalgia value that the show provides, Fitzpatrick said.

They will not be able to buy old, complete episodes online, however, because Sesame Workshop and DVD distributor Genius Products are anxious not to gut sales of the first 10 seasons of the show, which are available on disc, he said.

(By Robert MacMillan, editing by Richard Chang)

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