Sprout (TV network)

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Not to be confused with PBS Kids or PBS Kids Go!.
Sprout logo.svg
The current logo since November 13, 2013. This logo was used on IDs and promos starting in 2009.
Launched September 26, 2005; 10 years ago (2005-09-26)
Owned by NBCUniversal Cable
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
(HD feed downgraded to center cut 480i for SDTVs)
Slogan Free to Grow
Country United States
Language English
Broadcast area Nationwide
Headquarters Comcast Building, Rockefeller Center, New York
Formerly called PBS Kids Sprout (2005–2013)
Replaced PBS Kids channel (on most providers)
Website http://www.sproutonline.com
DirecTV Channel 295 (SD)
C-Band AMC 11 - Channel 55 (4DTV Digital)
AMC 18 - Channel 55 (H2H 4DTV)
Verizon FiOS 263 (SD)
Available on most other U.S. cable systems Consult your local cable provider for channel availability
AT&T U-verse 337 (SD)
1337 (HD)
Google Fiber Check local listings for channels
Streaming media
PlayStation Vue Internet Protocol television

Sprout (formerly PBS Kids Sprout) is an American digital cable and satellite television network that is owned by the NBCUniversal Cable subsidiary of NBCUniversal. Sprout replaced the PBS Kids channel on some cable and satellite providers. The network, which also maintains a complimentary video-on-demand (VOD) service and website, features a mix of children's programs acquired from the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and original programming exclusive to the network, which is aimed at preschoolers and their families. The network's live programming and wraparound segments are produced at NBC Studios at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City.[1][2]

As of February 2015, Sprout is available to approximately 58 million pay television households (49.8% of households with television) in the United States.[3]

PBS Kids Channel (1999-2005)[edit]

Sprout traces its origins to the PBS Kids network (referred to as PBS Kids Channel in press materials), which launched on September 6, 1999 coinciding with PBS Kids' rebrand that day. The PBS Kids feed was available on digital cable and satellite television, and was also offered to PBS member stations for use on a "cablecast" service (a cable-only local channel provided by the member station) or for use on the member station's over-the-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. At launch, 32 PBS member stations had signed up to use the service. The channel was created, in part, to compete against Nick Jr. and its sister network Noggin (which now shares its name with the Nick Jr. block).[4][5] Because the cable rights to the Children's Television Workshop's program library were owned by Noggin (which CTW owned a 50% interest in at the time), the channel did not broadcast any CTW programming, including Sesame Street, long a staple of PBS' children's programming lineup. The CTW-produced Dragon Tales, which premiered on the same day as the launch of the PBS Kids channel, was, at first, the only exception to this. When Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat (also produced by CTW, which had been renamed Sesame Workshop by this time) premiered in 2001, the PBS Kids Channel picked up the series and aired it for the remainder of the network's existence.

The channel was not successful and had only reached 9 million households as of 2002, compared to Noggin's 23.3 million households at the time.[6] This ultimately may have been the deciding factor in PBS' decision to shut down the channel in 2005. When the channel did shut down, many member stations which had been using the PBS Kids channel on their cablecast channels or over-the-air digital subchannels continued to operate their children's channels as local services scheduled independently of a satellite feed, while other member stations shut down their kids channels entirely and redirected viewers of those channels to the newly-launched PBS Kids Sprout. As a replacement, PBS attempted to launch a similar network targeted at a Elementary School-aged audience in October of the following year, the PBS Kids Go! Channel, based on the sub-block of the same name on PBS Kids. However, financial problems forced PBS to delay the launch by several months, eventually shelving that channel for reasons which were never disclosed.


Former logo used from September 26, 2005 to November 13, 2013. This logo was also used on idents and promos from its launch until 2009.

On October 20, 2004, PBS announced that it had entered into a joint partnership with cable provider Comcast, and production companies HIT Entertainment and Sesame Workshop to launch a then-unnamed cable and satellite television channel aimed at preschool children.[7] On April 4, 2005, Comcast announced that the network's video on demand service, which would be named PBS Kids Sprout, would launch that day, and that the linear television network would launch later on September 1, 2005; the launch date for the television service was later delayed three weeks to September 26. When Sprout launched on September 26, it replaced the PBS Kids channel on some providers – helping give it an initial reach of 16.5 million pay television subscribers; the first program to be broadcast on the network was Boohbah, airing at 6:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

Comcast acquired a 51% majority stake of the NBCUniversal Television Group in January 2011 (and would assume full ownership of the company on March 19, 2013). As a result, Comcast's interest in Sprout was turned over to NBCUniversal. When Apax Partners sold HIT Entertainment to Mattel on October 24, 2011, HIT's ownership interest in Sprout was not included in the deal and was retained by Apax Partners.[8] On November 13, 2013, NBCUniversal acquired Apax and PBS's shares in the network, giving the company full ownership of the network, with its operations being merged into its NBCUniversal Cable subsidiary.[9] As a result, the "PBS Kids" branding was dropped from the network's name, renaming it as Sprout.[10][11]


Sprout's schedule consists of two programs carried by PBS (Caillou and The Berenstain Bears), acquired programming (such as LazyTown, Tree Fu Tom, and Poppy Cat), and originally produced programming (such as Pajanimals and The Chica Show). Unlike other children's television networks, Sprout usually airs programs (which are packaged into two 11-minute segments) that only last one segment. Sprout also airs programming blocks that fill most of the network's schedule, except between 12:00 and 6:00 p.m. and 3:00 and 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time (3:00 and 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time only on weekends).

In July 2012, Sprout began to produce a Saturday morning cartoon/live-action block for NBC aimed at preschoolers, NBC Kids (along with MiTelemundo, a Spanish-dubbed version of the block airing on sister network Telemundo that airs on both Saturdays and Sundays), which replaced a similarly formatted block – which itself was produced in conjunction with NBCUniversal – called Qubo, which had been airing on NBC and Telemundo since September 2006 (Qubo continues to exist as a Friday morning block for Ion Television, which is now aired on Sunday mornings and now called the Qubo Kids Corner, whose parent Ion Media Networks now wholly owns the block's companion digital multicast network).[12][13] As of October 2014, NBC Kids is the only Saturday morning programming block to air cartoons.

Since NBCUniversal took over management of Sprout in 2011, following its acquisition by the network's original managing partner Comcast, Sprout has evolved from its initial intent to serve as a home for archived content produced by the partners and has invested more heavily in original programming, in order to better compete with fellow preschool-oriented cable networks, Nick Jr. and Disney Junior. Under NBCUniversal, programs seen on the network such as The Chica Show have gained increased visibility airing on NBC as part of the NBC Kids block.[14]

Despite PBS' divestiture of the channel in 2013, Sprout continued to air several PBS Kids programs until their contract with PBS expired on the channel's 10th anniversary, September 26, 2015. The only remaining PBS Kids programs still airing on Sprout are The Berenstain Bears and Caillou.

Programming blocks[edit]

  • Sunny Side UpSunny Side Up is the network's late morning block, airing from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
  • The Good Night ShowThe Good Night Show is the network's evening and overnight block, airing daily from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

Related services[edit]

Sprout HD[edit]

Sprout HD is a high definition simulcast feed of the Sprout channel that was first announced in May 2010 and began broadcasting on September 1, 2010.[15] All programs filmed in HD are presented in 16:9 widescreen, whereas programs that are not filmed in high definition are presented in a 4:3 pillarboxed format. It is currently available on Comcast, AT&T U-verse, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, and Time Warner Cable.

Sprout On Demand[edit]

Sprout On Demand is the channel's video-on-demand service which launched on April 4, 2005 on Comcast, six months prior to launch of the linear Sprout channel. The service offers 50 hours of programs a month, with 25% of the programs updated every two weeks.


  1. ^ https://www.governor.ny.gov/press/05052014-sprout-relocate-new-york-city. Retrieved 26 October 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ "Sprouting her wings". Philadelphia Inquirer. 8 June 2014. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  3. ^ Seidman, Robert (February 22, 2015). "List of how many homes each cable network is in as of February 2015". TV by the Numbers. Zap2it. Retrieved March 14, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Multi-purpose PBS Kids takes flight next week". Current.org. Retrieved November 19, 2015. 
  5. ^ "PBS launches kids network". Variety. Retrieved November 19, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Sesame quits Noggin network". Current.org. Retrieved November 19, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Comcast, HIT Entertainment, PBS and Sesame Workshop Announce Plans to Launch Ground-breaking 24-hour Preschool Children's Television Channel" (Press release). Arlington, VA: PBS. 2004-10-20. Retrieved 2013-08-03. 
  8. ^ Braude, Jonathan (October 24, 2011). "Apax sells Hit Entertainment to Mattel". The Deal. Retrieved August 3, 2013. 
  9. ^ Jensen, Elizabeth. "NBCUniversal Takes Full Ownership of Sprout Cable Network". New York Times. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  10. ^ Nordyke, Kimberly (November 13, 2013). "NBCUniversal Acquires Ownership of Kids' Channel Sprout". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 13, 2014. 
  11. ^ Hagey, Keach (November 13, 2013). "NBCUniversal Buys Remainder of Sprout Network". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 14, 2013. 
  12. ^ "NBC Will Launch NBC Kids, a New Saturday Morning Preschool Block Programmed by Sprout®, Saturday, July 7". MarketWatch. March 28, 2012. Retrieved July 15, 2013. 
  13. ^ Rubino, Lindsay (March 28, 2012). "NBC, With Assist From Sprout, to Launch Saturday Morning Preschool Block". MultiChannel News. Retrieved July 15, 2013. 
  14. ^ Jensen, Elizabeth. "NBC Universal Takes Full Ownership of Sprout Cable Network". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 

External links[edit]