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Elmo takes the spotlight in new YouTube series

Engadget Engadget 20/06/2016 Daniel Cooper
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Sesame Street's producers realize that kids these days are spending their days glued to devices other than their TVs. Its presence on YouTube has more than two million subscribers, and it recently launched Sesame Studios to test new ideas on web-savvy kids. But that doesn't mean that the regular Street channel is being neglected, since it's about to devote the next six months to making Elmo a YouTube star. The Sesame Workshop is launching the "Love to Learn" campaign that'll see the channel providing a series of themed videos between July and December. Each month will tackle a different topic, from Animals and Music through to Cooking and Kindness.

The TV version of Sesame Street often ropes in a famous actor, politician or musician to do a little sketch with the adorable muppets. The show has played host to such figures as Johnny Cash, Richard Prior, Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton and Julia Roberts. But, since this is YouTube, producers have sought out partnerships with figures who have become stars from shows on the video-sharing service. So, Elmo will appear in clips with Simon's Cat, Eh Bee and Jerome Jarre, while Cookie Monster gets a lesson in food preparation from Rosanna "Nerdy Nummies" Pansino.

Sesame Street is something of a towering institution that, you feel, is a permanent fixture of our culture. But the truth is very different, with Sesame Workshop (formerly known as the Children's Television Workshop) suffering from a funding crisis. In 2009, the nonprofit felt the bite of funding cuts, and began operating at a significant loss, which was only exasperated by the decline in physical media sales, which had previously been covering the shortfall. These days, HBO has stepped in to help, which has given the Workshop time and space to develop new projects online as well as launching its own startup incubator.

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