For 25 years public broadcasting’s PBS has aired the children’s animated series “Arthur” on TV stations nationwide. But the longest-running children’s animated series in U.S. television history will come to an end next month. However, the show will continue to live on digitally, including as a podcast as PBS announces several new moves to embrace on-demand audio.
Following a special “Arthur” marathon, including four new episodes, and the airing of more than 250 episodes and movie specials back-to-back on the PBS Kids 24/7 channel and livestream and YouTube, PBS will begin rolling out new content including a podcast in the months to come. It says it also plans to release new video shorts.
PBS has worked with GBH Kids, one of the top producers for public media, on “Arthur” and going forward will partner with Gen-Z Media for a new podcast, which will leverage the library of “Arthur” stories and characters that have strongly resonated with audiences as well as introduce a new generation to the series and some of its classic storylines for the series that launched in Oct. 1996.
“For more than 25 years, Arthur and his friends have kept viewers learning and growing through their true-to-life experiences,” said Sara DeWitt, Senior VP/General Manager at PBS Kids. “We can’t wait to debut these episodes and introduce new ‘Arthur’ content that will give fans more ways to engage with their favorite aardvark.”
During the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour on Tuesday, PBS also announced the first-ever podcast projects for PBS Digital Studios.
“Along with online video and social media, podcasts will play an important role in PBS’s growing slate of multiplatform content,” said Maribel Lopez, Head of PBS Digital Studios. “Podcasts are an ideal format for PBS Digital Studios’ distinct brand of storytelling and will allow us to continue expansion to audiences across platforms.”
PBS will launch a show called It’s Lit! [Unabridged] on February 1. The podcast is a deep dive into the world of literature, criticism, and publishing, offering a more narrow focus on a single topic than the web series. Hosted by Princess Weekes, an assistant editor of the popular online publication “The Mary Sue,” the podcast will feature conversations with authors discussing their own work, influential novels, and issues related to books and literature. The series is produced by Spotzen for PBS and is a sister to the It’s Lit online video series.
Then on March 14, PBS Digital Studios will debut a podcast called Eons: Mysteries of Deep Time. The series is hosted by science communicators Blake de Pastino, Kallie Moore and Michelle Barboza-Ramirez, who will dig into the past and explore the greatest mysteries of natural history. From the dawn of the dinosaurs to modern downtown Los Angeles, they cover what is known and yet to be discovered about the history of life on Earth. The podcast is produced for PBS by Complexly. It will be a spinoff of the “PBS Eons” digital series on YouTube.
Both podcasts will have ten episodes in their debut seasons. Each will be distributed by PRX, which PBS says will enable PBS Digital Studios to build on its successes on YouTube and expand into audio storytelling.
“PBS produces some of the most impactful educational entertainment in the world. At PRX, we’re proud to collaborate across public media to help bring PBS Digital Studios’ first podcasts to listeners,” said Jason Saldanha, Chief of Business Development and Content at PRX. “We can’t wait for audiences to dive into these new shows bringing to life the endlessly complex, fascinating worlds of literature and science.”