PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service, is an American public television network.
One of PBS' most successful programs is Sesame Street, which has aired on the network for over 50 years. Sesame Street’s first season was broadcast on National Educational Television (NET), the predecessor to PBS. Since 2016, Sesame Street has aired first-run episodes on HBO, and then HBO Max starting in 2020, before airing on PBS following a window of 8-10 months. PBS is also home to the Jim Henson Company's television series Sid the Science Kid, Dinosaur Train and Splash and Bubbles.
A popular series on the channel, Great Performances, aired the documentary The World of Jim Henson. Similarly, Independent Lens featured The World According to Sesame Street and Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey.
The television specials Sesame Street, Special and Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake were both produced as pledge-drive specials and included sequences that discussed public television, mentioned various PBS shows, and led to real pledge breaks.
Muppet characters, specifically ones from Sesame Street, have appeared in various specially-made PBS promos; including an assortment of promos taped in April 1974, as noted in Jim Henson's Red Book. In 1979, Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Ernie, Bert, Cookie Monster, and Grover all appeared in a PBS fundraiser marathon, while Statler and Waldorf appeared in a fundraiser in 1983.
The Sesame Street Muppets have also made guest appearances on PBS shows including The Electric Company, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, Reading Rainbow, and Between the Lions. PBS also broadcast Here Come the Puppets, which was hosted by Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog, with appearances by other Muppets. In 2013, Cookie Monster made a guest appearance on the online video series National Film Society.
Pledge drive segments
In the sketch, Kermit appears in a PBS studio and explains to the viewers why the stations need contributions: "Do you know how much it costs to produce good television these days? Well, I got the figures right here. For instance, this station spends over 14,000 dollars a month just on microphones. And that's, that's just the microphone bill alone." Behind him, Cookie Monster enters, eyes an expensive microphone, and eats it. Kermit hears the crunching -- but when he turns around, Cookie is hiding. Kermit resumes: "You take spotlights... Now, the figure on spotlights is 57,000 dollars a month we spend for spotlights!" Again, Cookie Monster grabs a hunk off a spotlight and chomps on it.
Kermit continues: "But the most expensive of all is the television cameras. Now, we spend for cameras eight hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars --" Behind him, Cookie Monster approaches a camera and starts to eat it. Kermit sees him, and asks what he's doing. "Oh, me just stopped by for lunch," the monster says, and continues to munch on the camera. Disgusted, Kermit walks off.
Another segment involves Kermit talking to a young girl named Cathlin. Kermit says that Cathlin is a spokesperson of Sesame Street and asks what are her favorite television programs. Cathlin replies that her favorite programs are Emergency, Adam-12, and The Waltons. Kermit becomes nervous with each answer until he gets Cathlin to say her favorite program is Sesame Street. Kermit then urges viewers to call PBS to keep Sesame Street on the air.