The Bugg Report recently had the chance to sit down with Evan Hutchison, Senior Manager, Licensing & Business Development for Asia Pacific at Sesame Workshop. Evan spoke about a range of topics including an overall update from Sesame Workshop for 2022, live experiences, new collaborations, content and the ever-evolving world of content platforms.
How is 2022 going so far? What are some new and exciting things that can we expect to see this year?
The first phrase that comes to mind is a line from a favourite movie: “it’s all happening!”
We’re off to a great start. Sesame Street Mecha Builders, our new CGI-animated show that reimagines Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Abby Cadabby as robot heroes-in-training who use their STEM superpowers to solve wacky larger-than-life problems, is set to debut in Australia later this year. We’re also introducing Tango, Elmo’s adorable new puppy — on Season 52 of Sesame Street on ABC Kids this July. We’re continuing the important work of our Coming Together social justice initiative, to help children build positive and healthy senses of self. All this new content has fully integrated educational curricula, engaging characters, and a whole lot of heart – everything parents would expect from the makers of Sesame Street.
The Covid pandemic was hard in so many ways (I can’t stress that enough, especially as a parent), but one positive spin is that I think we’ll look back at that time as a real period of ingenuity at The Workshop. One example: in February 2021, we managed to give away 2.6 million Sesame Street books to the children of Australia through Big W’s Free Books for Kids program. We also put out a line of 100% recyclable plush toys called ReSoftables with our Australian toy partner Headstart, the first-ever in our brand’s history. That was a real win on the sustainability front, and we hope to do more in that space.
As the world begins to come out of the Covid pandemic, there seems to be consumer demand for more live experiences. What is Sesame doing in this space?
We’re so happy that our touring live show, the Sesame Street Circus Spectacular, continues to entertain and thrill children and their families across Australia. The 90-minute show features Elmo, Cookie Monster, Abby, Grover and other friends plus elite performers from around the world that will make your jaw drop. It’s a must-see; there’s nothing else like it.
From Peter Alexander to the Wiggles to Under Armour x Curry Brand, Sesame Workshop has done some amazing collaborations these last few years. Can you tell me what else might be in the works?
Yes, we’ve been collaborating with some top trend-setting lifestyle brands—each fresh approach reminds me how dynamic our brand is. And it makes my job so fun.
We just launched another collaboration with Peter Alexander, Australia’s leading sleepwear designer brand. Inspired by iconic characters and big dose of playfulness, the nearly 50 SKU collection features bold, colourful prints and snuggly, soft fabrics that make bedtime fun for the whole family. We have a great fashion collab with Cotton-On, Australia’s largest global retailer, that has a fun, vintage 90s vibe, and recently launched a capsule collection with sustainable Aussie kidswear label Goldie + Ace.
We’re even doing our part to ensure that the furry members of your family can be kitted out with Sesame, too, through licensing with Bark! and Pablo & Co. We also have some great collabs in footwear and cosmetics in the works. We’re really proud of our local licensing program that caters to both children and adult fans.
Our success in Australia and New Zealand wouldn’t be possible without our close partnership with our local representatives Haven Global, who bring tremendous passion and enthusiasm to their work on the Sesame Street brand.Evan Hutchinson
What’s the production/distribution strategy for the next 12-24 months?
I’m so excited about the future of our content production slate and engagement opportunities. We’ve achieved what I like to call “the holy trinity” of distribution: you can now watch our content on YouTube, linear TV, and streaming. We’ve secured a long-term renewal to broadcast Sesame Street with ABC Kids, our home in Australia for over 52+ years. They’re also welcoming Sesame Street Mecha Builders to their channel, which caters to a slightly older preschool audience. There are additional Sesame Street seasons on Netflix, and Season 1 of Elmo’s new talk show, The Not-Too-Late Show, is streaming on Stan.
Last but certainly not least, we’re also happy to see our content presence is growing in New Zealand, with TVNZ.
How is your content reaching children on various platforms and screens today?
Our mission is to help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder—and we’re proud of all the ways we accomplish that across the globe. Whether you’re watching Sesame Street from an apartment in New York City or a farm in Australia—or viewing one of our local co-productions—from the Middle East and North Africa to Germany, the content is always tailored to meet kids’ needs, whatever they may be. We’re investing in short-form content on YouTube, We’re investing in podcasts. We know how maintaining healthy routines helps young children understand their world and feel secure—especially when we’ve all experienced so much upheaval and disruption. Last year, we launched Goodnight, World!, co-produced with the mindfulness and meditation experts at Headspace. And we recently debuted the second season of The Sesame Street Podcast with Foley & Friends on Audible. All that’s available in Australia and other parts of the world.
In developing countries and areas of conflict, depending on the context, we regularly go beyond the TV screen to reach families through radio, print materials, digital media, mobile phones, handheld battery-operated projectors, and even WhatsApp chatbots. One top-of-mind example: as the ongoing war in Ukraine continues to fracture daily life for families who have fled and those who have stayed behind, we are helping children process what they are experiencing, communicate their feelings, and continue learning through Sesame Street content distributed digitally and through partners on the ground.
As a parent to a toddler, I’m now hyperaware of the impact a show like Sesame Street can have. I come to work feeling extremely proud of the ways we reach and teach children every day.