HBO agreement reverses financial losses at Sesame Workshop

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Sesame Workshop’s 2015 deal with HBO to produce Sesame Street has lifted the nonprofit out of a decade-long financial slide, Forbes reports.

Previously, the fee PBS paid for broadcast rights covered less than 10 percent of the program’s production costs. Now HBO pays to produce Sesame Street and PBS member stations get episodes free nine months after the program airs on the cable network.

That agreement “totally changed our economics,” CEO Jeffrey Dunn, who negotiated the deal, told the magazine. Sesame went from an operating loss in fiscal year 2014 of $11 million on revenues of $104 million to an operating profit in FY17 of $6.7 million on revenues of $118.5 million.

Dunn also launched Sesame Ventures in 2016, a unit that invests in child-focused startups. According to Forbes, Sesame Ventures has since invested in more than 40 projects such as Epic!, a personalized digital library of ebooks.

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