|Launched||July 11, 1994 (PTV)|
September 6, 1999 (as PBS Kids)
|Country of origin||United States|
|Formerly known as||PTV (1994–99)|
PBS Kids (stylized in all caps) is the brand for most[note 1] of the children's programming aired by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the United States. The target audience is children between the ages of 2 and 8. PBS Kids brand programming is aired daily on most local PBS stations during a daytime block, typically scheduled in the morning hours, in addition to a separate 24/7 channel (sometimes called PBS Kids Channel or PBS Kids 24/7). Both the block and 24/7 service are broadcast over the air, via cable and satellite providers and on streaming platforms. Select programming is also available internationally.
PBS had historically aired programs for children such as Sesame Street, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, and Reading Rainbow; prior to 1993, these programs aired under general PBS branding. In August 1993, PBS introduced new branding for their children's programs featuring "The P-Pals", animated characters shaped like PBS logos who encouraged skills such as gathering information, self-esteem, cooperation and achieving goals in specially developed interstitials.
The framework for PBS Kids was established as part of PBS' "Ready to Learn" initiative, a project intended to facilitate access of early childhood educational programming to underprivileged children. On July 11, 1994, PBS repackaged their existing children's educational programming as a new block called "PTV", airing on 11 member stations at launch. In addition to scheduled educational programming, PTV also incorporated interstitial content with the P-Pals in their fictional world "PTV Park" for younger children. Older children were targeted with live-action and music video interstitials.
Apple Computer provided a $1.5 million grant to PTV and became its first national underwriter on June 26, 1995, as part of their "Bring Learning Home" corporate initiative. A "Ready To Learn" grant unveiled on January 8, 1996, supported the development of Dragon Tales and Between the Lions, which premiered in 1999 and 2000, respectively, as well as their online activities and outreach efforts. By September 1996, 95 PBS stations reaching three quarters of the United States were carrying the PTV service. Starting on October 7, 1996, PBS packaged their programs for school-aged children into the block The Game, airing on 31 stations by the end of the year.
PBS announced on January 18, 1999, that it would launch the PBS Kids Channel, meant to be the centerpiece of a larger initiative, in September. On June 9, PBS revealed a wide rebranding of its children's programs and services, known as PBS Kids, at its annual meeting in San Francisco. PBS would also increase its children's programming budget by 25% and commit to two new series: Caillou and Anne of Green Gables: The Animated Series.
The rebranding to "PBS Kids" first took effect on September 6, 1999, when PBS launched the 24-hour PBS Kids television network. The new PBS Kids branding elements began rolling out on PBS stations in October; PBS provided grants to stations who adopted the new branding early. Brand designers incorporated a thought bubble concept across the brand packaging, intended to associate "imagination, thinking and using your head" with PBS Kids. Included with the new on-air appearance was a bright green logo featuring iconic boy and girl mascot characters. The PBS Kids website was relaunched with some new areas on February 1, 2000.
The PBS Kids Channel was shut down on September 26, 2005, in favor of a new commercial cable and satellite joint venture channel, PBS Kids Sprout. However, the PBS Kids block continued on the PBS daytime schedule.
One year prior to the launch of Sprout, PBS developed PBS Kids Go!, a sub-brand of PBS Kids, which debuted in October 2004. This programming block was directed at the oldest subset of the existing PBS Kids demographic (generally ages 6 to 8). This spurred plans for a new 24/7 service. PBS offered a replacement early school-aged kids network based on the block PBS Kids Go! by April 2006, intended to be launched in October 2006, but was cancelled before launch. Amid 2011 research which revealed that the PBS Kids brand was more recognizable than PBS Kids Go!, and ratings which showed preschoolers and school-age children watching each other's shows, PBS Kids received another graphic redesign and the PBS Kids Go! branding was dissolved on October 7, 2013, coinciding with the debut of Peg + Cat.
PBS later revived the PBS Kids Channel on January 16, 2017, this time being structured as a multi-platform service with an online livestream of the channel on the PBS Kids website and video app, in addition to utilizing largely the same distribution methods that had been used for the original channel. At the time of launch, no changes were made to the main PBS Kids block. The block is counter programmed from the channel, thus the same show would not be shown at the same time on the channel and block. PBS Kids Channel is also available on DirecTV and DirecTV Stream on channel 288.
In November 2020, PBS Kids, in association with the main PBS service, became the terrestrial television home of select specials from the Peanuts animated library, under a sub-licensing agreement with Apple TV+. The agreement allowed both PBS and PBS Kids Channel to air It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and A Charlie Brown Christmas over the air, once per year. After the 2021 holiday season, the agreement with PBS ended, and since then, the Peanuts specials have not aired on American broadcast television.
In June 2022, it was announced that PBS Kids would inaugurate a new, text-only logo set upon a disc element, on July 19, 2022. To create a more cohesive brand identity, the color of the new logo matches the blue coloring of PBS logo from 2019, while maintaining the familiar bright green for some of the lettering.
In February 2023, a major shift in program scheduling reduced the duration of the daytime PBS Kids block on local PBS stations significantly. Previously, the PBS Kids block encompassed a much larger portion of the daytime schedule, including both before- and after-school hours throughout the morning and afternoon. Many PBS stations had already begun transitioning to shorter morning blocks, but this change pushed nearly all stations to shorten their daytime children’s schedules to morning hours only. PBS cited changes in viewing behaviors, and decided that it was advantageous to focus their children’s programming in the mornings and cater to more general audiences in the afternoons, while continuing to grow their audience on the 24/7 kids service.
As online streaming began to increase in popularity, PBS launched the PBS Kids Go! video player on its website on September 8, 2008. This federally-funded, innovative video streaming platform featured video clips from a number of PBS Kids Go! shows which rotated on a weekly basis and linked to interactive online games. The video player later expanded to include all PBS Kids programming, and the entire platform evolved into the PBS Kids Video app, which initially became publicly available for free on May 12, 2011. The PBS Kids Video app is currently the primary source for free streaming of on-demand video clips and full episodes of PBS Kids programming. It also features a live stream of the PBS Kids 24/7 Channel feed.
On May 8, 2013, PBS Kids programming was added to the Roku streaming player.
On July 1, 2016, Amazon Prime Video and PBS Distribution entered into a multi-year agreement which saw several PBS Kids series on other streaming services move to Amazon Prime Video. The PBS Kids subscription allows families to stream nearly all PBS Kids programs currently broadcast on air; however, notable exceptions exist, namely Sesame Street, which streams on Max, and Curious George, which streams on NBCUniversal's Peacock. The PBS Kids add-on service also includes several retired series, such as Reading Rainbow, Kratts' Creatures, and It's a Big Big World.
A selection of PBS Kids brand programming is available outside of the United States through PBS Distribution, PBS International and GBH, who jointly offer a PBS Kids subscription channel and on-demand video services to international audiences.
PBS Distribution partnered with MultiChoice to launch PBS Kids on May 22, 2019, on DStv and GOtv platforms across its Sub-Saharan Africa footprint.
PBS Distribution partnered with Foxtel to launch PBS Kids on July 1, 2021, in Australia. The channel was discontinued two years later on July 1, 2023.
For list of all PBS Kids programs, see List of programs broadcast by PBS Kids.
PBS Kids programming has historically received generally positive reviews from television critics and parents of young children. L.A. Story (a division of Blogspot) wrote, "Great for any little explorer!" Rob Owen of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote, "Best children's entertainment available." Valerie Williams of Scary Mommy wrote, "A wonderful gift." Steve Aquino of Forbes wrote, "Making learning accessible in the coronavirus age."
|Type||Digital broadcast TV network (children's programming)|
United States, Sub-Saharan Africa
|Availability||National (via OTA digital television)|
|Founded||January 18, 1999 (original) |
February 23, 2016 (revival)
|Headquarters||Arlington County, Virginia|
|Owner||Public Broadcasting Service|
|September 6, 1999 (original)|
January 16, 2017 (revival)
|Dissolved||September 26, 2005(original)|
(some affiliates transmit PBS Kids programming in 1080i 16:9 and 720p 16:9)
|Affiliates||List of affiliates|
|Webcast||PBS Kids Live TV|
PBS Kids is an American digital broadcast and online television network operated by the Public Broadcasting Service. The network features a broad mix of live action and animated children's programs distributed to PBS by independent companies and select member stations, which are designed for improving the early literacy, math, and social-emotional skills of young children ages 3 to 9. Some PBS member stations, most notably KLCS in Los Angeles and WDCQ-TV in Bad Axe, Michigan, maintain their own locally programmed PBS Kids feed that is independent from the nationally sourced feed.
On September 6, 1999, PBS launched the PBS Kids Channel in several markets, in conjunction with the introduction of the PBS Kids brand to provide a unified branding for the service's children's programming offerings. The separate network (referred to as the PBS Kids Channel in press materials) was available on high-tier subscription providers, and was also offered to PBS member stations for use on a "cablecast" service (a subscription-based local channel provided by the member station) or for use on the member station's free-to-air analog channel to provide a portion of the daytime PBS Kids programming on the station. Participating stations were required to pay an annual fee of $1,000 to use the feed. The channel was launched on over 30 PBS member stations with carriage methods ranging from a cable-only service, to a standard-definition digital subchannel, to analog simulcasts. Additional affiliates would pick up the channel later throughout the fall and winter of 1999.
FCC requirements mandated satellite providers to set aside 4% of their available channel space for noncommercial educational and informational programming. With these providers limited to offering one such service per programmer, PBS had put forth PBS Kids as a prospective channel to fulfill this mandate.
The channel was also partly created to compete against the Nick Jr. block and its sister network Noggin; at the time, Noggin was co-owned by the Children's Television Workshop (the production company behind Sesame Street) and Nickelodeon. Because the pay-TV rights to the Children's Television Workshop's programs were owned by Noggin, the channel did not broadcast CTW programming, including longtime PBS staple Sesame Street, though an exception was made with Dragon Tales (which premiered on the same day as the launch of the PBS Kids Channel).
The channel was unsuccessful and had only reached 9 million households as of 2002, compared to Noggin's 23.3 million households at the time. In the aftermath of DirecTV's decision not to renew its funding agreement with the channel, which ended in the third quarter of 2005, PBS decided to shut down the network on September 26 of that year.[failed verification] PBS Kids Channel was effectively supplanted on that date by PBS Kids Sprout, an advertiser-supported cable and satellite channel that PBS developed in a joint venture with Sesame Workshop, HIT Entertainment and Comcast (who later bought full control of the network via NBCUniversal).
PBS gave local stations an option to sign on PBS Kids Sprout promoters, providing them cross-promotional and monetary benefits in exchange for giving up the ability to carry a competing preschool-targeted channel. For example, PBS member station WBGU-TV aired promotional spots for PBS Kids Sprout during their PBS Kids daytime block, thereby forfeiting their eligibility to air a children's channel locally. 80 stations, making up about half of the member stations participants, signed up to be promoters; most of the remaining stations opted to develop independent children's programming services featuring programs distributed by PBS and through outside distributors such as American Public Television to fill space on digital subchannels that formerly served as PBS Kids Channel members. Many of the member stations that launched children's-focused subchannel or cable-only services reduced the amount of sourced programming from PBS Kids carried on their primary channel to a few hours of their weekday daytime schedules, in order to program more adult-targeted fare during the afternoon.
PBS relaunched the PBS Kids Channel on January 16, 2017. Structured as a multi-platform service, it was made available for distribution to digital subchannels of participating PBS member stations, initially launching on 73 member stations (counting those operated as subregional PBS member networks), with an additional 34 agreeing to begin carrying the network at a later date.[failed verification] A live stream of the channel was also added to the PBS Kids website and video app upon the channel's debut, which will eventually allow viewers to toggle from the program being aired to a related educational game extending the interactivity introduced by Sesame Street. The network is counterprogrammed from the PBS Kids block, so that the same program would not be shown on either simultaneously. PBS Kids 24/7 mainly features double-runs of existing series on PBS Kids' schedule (including some not carried on the primary channels of certain member stations); as such, no additional programs had to be acquired to help fill the channel's schedule. On April 21, 2017, the network launched "PBS Kids Family Night," a weekly block on Friday evenings (with encore airings on Saturday and Sunday evenings) that showcase themed programming, premieres or special "movie-length" episodes of new and existing PBS Kids children's programs.
|City of license/
|Local channel||Affiliation date|
|Birmingham||WBIQ||10.2||Alabama Public Television||January 16, 2017|
|Anchorage||KAKM||7.4||Alaska Public Telecommunications||TBD|
|Fairbanks||KUAC-TV||9.8||University of Alaska Fairbanks|
|Arkadelphia||KETG||9.3||Arkansas Educational Television Network||January 16, 2017|
|Phoenix||KAET||8.4||Arizona State University||January 16, 2017|
|Tucson||KUAT-TV||6.2||Arizona Public Media||2003–2005||2005–2017|
|Eureka||KEET||13.5||Redwood Empire Public Television, Inc.||January 16, 2017|
|Fresno||KVPT||18.2||Valley Public Television, Inc.|
(serves Los Angeles)
|Los Angeles||KLCS||58.2||Los Angeles Unified School District||2004–present|
|Sacramento||KVIE||6.4||KVIE, Inc.||January 16, 2017|
|San Diego||KPBS||15.4||San Diego State University|
|KQEH and KQED||54.4 and 9.4
|Northern California Public Broadcasting||August 1, 2003 – January 15, 2017|
(serves the Monterey Bay area)
|Denver||KRMA-TV||6.2||Rocky Mountain PBS||TBD|
|Hartford||WEDH||24.4||Connecticut Public Television|
(serves eastern Connecticut, including New London)
District of Columbia
|Washington||WETA-TV||26.3||Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association||2007– 2019||August 2019|
|WHUT-TV||32.2||Howard University||January 16, 2017|
|Fort Myers||WGCU||30.5||Florida Gulf Coast University||January 16, 2017|
|Miami||WPBT||2.4||South Florida PBS|
|West Palm Beach||WXEL-TV||42.3|
|Orlando||WUCF-TV||24.3||University of Central Florida|
|Panama City||WFSG||56.4||Florida State University|
|Pensacola||WSRE||23.4||Pensacola Junior College||TBD|
|Tampa-St. Petersburg||WEDU||3.2||Florida West Coast Public Broadcasting, Inc.||TBD|
|WEDQ||16.2||University of South Florida||Currently|
|Atlanta Public Schools||September 6, 1999 – 2005|
|WGTV||8.4||Georgia Public Broadcasting||January 16, 2017|
(serves Valdosta and Brunswick)
|Honolulu||KHET||11.2||Hawaii Public Television||July 1, 2003||October 1, 2005||January 16, 2017|
|Wailuku (serves Maui)||KMEB||10.2||July 1, 2003||January 16, 2017|
|Boise||KAID||4.5||Idaho State Department of Education||February 1, 2018|
(part of the Spokane, Washington market)
|Carbondale||WSIU-TV||8.5||Southern Illinois University||TBD|
|Chicago||WTTW||11.4||Window to the World Communications||January 16, 2017|
|Peoria||WTVP||47.2||Illinois Valley Public Telecommunications Corporation|
|WILL-TV||12.2||University of Illinois|
TIU Family (ended January 30, 2017)
|January 30, 2017|
|Fort Wayne||WFWA||39.2||Fort Wayne Public Television||2005||Kids39 (2005-2017)||January 16, 2017|
|Indianapolis||WFYI||20.2||Metropolitan Indianapolis Public Broadcasting||TBD|
|South Bend||WNIT||34.3||Michiana Public Broadcasting|
(serves Southwestern Indiana including Evansville and Terre Haute)
|WVUT||22.3||Vincennes University||January 16, 2017|
|Council Bluffs||KBIN-TV||32.4||Iowa Public Television||current (all .2)
IPTV Learn (10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.)
|Colby||KWKS||19.2||Smoky Hills Public Television||January 16, 2017|
|Hutchinson/Wichita||KPTS||8.4||Kansas Public Telecommunications Service||Current|
|Ashland||WKAS||25.4||Kentucky Authority for Educational Television||January 16, 2017|
|Alexandria||KLPA-TV||25.2||Louisiana Educational Television Authority||January 16, 2017|
|New Orleans||WYES-TV||12.4||Greater New Orleans Educational Television Foundation||TBD|
|Shreveport||KLTS-TV||24.2||Louisiana Educational Television Authority||January 16, 2017|
|Boston||WGBX-TV||44.4||WGBH Educational Foundation||January 16, 2017|
|Annapolis||WMPT||22.3||Maryland Public Television||MPT Select
(daytime hours only)
|January 16, 2017|
|Augusta||WCBB||10.4||Maine Public Broadcasting||January 16, 2017|
|Alpena||WCML||6.2||Central Michigan University||January 16, 2017|
(part of the Bay City/Saginaw/Midland market)
|Flint||WCMZ-TV||28.2||January 16, 2017 – April 23, 2018 |
(serves Saginaw and Bay City)
|Detroit||WTVS||56.2||Detroit Educational Television Foundation||January 16, 2017|
|East Lansing||WKAR-TV||23.4||Michigan State University|
|Grand Rapids||WGVU-TV||35.5||Grand Valley State University||TBD|
|Marquette||WNMU||13.2||Northern Michigan University||January 16, 2017|
|Appleton||KWCM-TV||10.5||West Central Minnesota Educational Television||TBD|
|Bemidji||KAWE||9.3||Northern Minnesota Public Television||January 16, 2017|
|Crookston||KCGE-DT||16.4||Prairie Public Television|
|St. Paul||KTCA-TV||2.4||Twin Cities PBS|
|Worthington||KSMN||20.5||West Central Minnesota Educational Television||TBD|
|Biloxi||WMAH-TV||19.2||Mississippi Public Broadcasting||January 16, 2017|
|Joplin||KOZJ||26.2||Missouri State University||January 16, 2017|
|Kansas City||KCPT||19.4||Public TV 19, Inc.|
|Sedalia||KMOS-TV||6.4||University of Central Missouri|
|St. Louis||KETC||9.2||St. Louis Regional Public Media, Inc.|
|Billings||KBGS-TV||16.2||Montana State University||January 16, 2017|
|Alliance||KTNE-TV||13.4||Nebraska Educational Telecommunications||March 1, 2017|
|Las Vegas||KLVX||10.3||Clark County School District||January 16, 2017|
|Reno||KNPB||5.3||Channel 5 Public Broadcasting|
(New York City)
|WNET||13.2||Educational Broadcasting Corporation||January 16, 2017|
|Albuquerque||KNME-TV||5.2||University of New Mexico||January 16, 2017|
|Las Cruces||KRWG-TV||22.3||University of New Mexico||TBD|
|Binghamton||WSKG-TV||46.6||WSKG Public Telecommunications Council||February 1, 2017|
|Buffalo||WNED-TV||17.3||Western New York Public Broadcasting Association||TBD|
|Norwood||WNPI-DT||18.4||St. Lawrence Valley Educational TV Council, Inc.||January 16, 2017|
|Plattsburgh||WCFE-TV||57.3||Mountain Lake Public Telecommunications Council|
|Rochester||WXXI-TV||21.4||WXXI Public Broadcasting Council||February 2017|
|WMHT||17.4||WMHT Educational Telecommunications||January 16, 2017|
|Syracuse||WCNY-TV||24.4||Public Broadcasting Council of Central New York|
|Asheville||WUNF-TV||33.2||University of North Carolina||January 16, 2017|
|Bismarck||KBME-TV||3.4||Prairie Public Television||January 16, 2017|
|Athens||OU Telecomm. Center||cable-only||Ohio University||September 6, 1999–present
(mornings and weekends)
|Bowling Green||WBGU-TV||27.2||Bowling Green State University||Current|
|Cleveland||WVIZ||25.5||Ideastream||January 16, 2017|
|Columbus||WOSU-TV||34.4||WOSU Public Media||January 16, 2017|
|Dayton||WPTD||16.5||Public Media Connect||January 16, 2017|
|Toledo||WGTE-TV||30.2||Public Broadcasting Foundation of Northwest Ohio|
|Cheyenne||KWET||12.4||Oklahoma Educational Television Authority||
||January 16, 2017|
|Oklahoma City and Tulsa||OETA Kids||cable||2009–2013|
|Bend||KOAB-TV||11.3||Oregon Public Broadcasting||January 16, 2017|
|Clearfield||WPSU-TV||3.4||Penn State Public Media||January 16, 2017|
|Scranton||WVIA-TV||44.2||Northeast Pennsylvania Educational Television Association|
|Fajardo||WMTJ||40.2||Ana G. Méndez University||Current||January 16, 2017|
|Allendale||WEBA-TV||14.4||South Carolina Educational Television||TBD|
|Aberdeen||KDSD-TV||16.4||South Dakota Public Broadcasting||January 16, 2017|
|Chattanooga||WTCI||45.3||Greater Chattanooga Public Television||January 2017|
|Cookeville||WCTE||22.4||Upper Cumberland Broadcast Council||TBD|
|Knoxville||WKOP-TV||15.2||East Tennessee PBS||January 16, 2017|
|WLJT-DT||11.2||West Tennessee Public Television Council, Inc.|
|Memphis||WKNO||10.3||Mid-South Public Communications Foundation|
|Nashville||WNPT-TV||8.3||Nashville Public Television, Inc.||2017–present||June 30, 2017|
|Sneedville||WETP-TV||2.2||East Tennessee PBS||January 16, 2017|
|Austin||KLRU||18.4||Capital of Texas Public Telecommunications Council||January 16, 2017|
|KNCT||46.2||Central Texas College|
|College Station||KAMU-TV||12.3||Texas A&M University|
|Dallas||KERA-TV||13.2||North Texas Public Broadcasting|
|Houston||KUHT||8.3||University of Houston|
|Lubbock||KTTZ-TV||5.3||Texas Tech University|
|Odessa||KPBT-TV||36.2||Permian Basin Public Telecommunications, Inc.||July 6, 2020 |
|San Antonio||KLRN||9.3||Alamo Public Telecommunications Council||April 1, 2017 |
|Salt Lake City||KUED||7.3||University of Utah||March 7, 2017|
|Hampton-Norfolk||WHRO-TV||15.3||Hampton Roads Educational Telecommunications Association||January 16, 2017|
|Roanoke||WBRA-TV||15.3||Blue Ridge PBS|
|Charlotte Amalie||WTJX-TV||12.2||Virgin Islands Public Broadcasting System||January 16, 2017|
|Burlington||WETK||33.4||Vermont PBS||January 16, 2017|
|Seattle||KCTS-TV||9.2||Cascade Public Media||TBD|
|Spokane||KSPS-TV||7.4||KSPS Public Television||September 2017 |
(April 1, 2017, on cable)
|Green Bay||WPNE-TV||38.4||PBS Wisconsin||January 16, 2017|
Milwaukee Area Technical College
|Grandview||WSWP-TV||9.3||West Virginia Public Broadcasting||January 16, 2017|
|Casper||KPTW||6.3||Central Wyoming College||TBD|
|Laramie (serves Cheyenne)||KWYP-DT||8.3|
PBS Kids ... was originally created for underprivileged young viewers who lacked access to early-childhood education.