Creator / Sprout
aka: NBC Kids
Free to Grow

Sprout (formerly PBS Kids Sprout) is a cable/satellite network that originated as a subnetwork of PBS Kids which originates from Philadelphia. Originally launched as a Video on Demand service, Sprout replaced the 24/7 PBS Kids network in 2005. It was a partnership of Sesame Workshop, Apax Partners (a share owned by HIT Entertainment prior to its purchase by Mattel), PBS and NBCUniversal (via the Comcast merger). The latter company became the sole owner late in 2013, with NBCU's international kids' channel joint venture KidsCo ending in the process.

Sprout is known for their themed blocks of programming. Since its creation, it has had a regular feature in "The Sunny Side Up Show," a morning block with live hosts and the channel's kazoo-voiced puppet mascot Chica the chicken (who received her own series, The Chica Show, in 2012) that even airs original content on holidays such as Christmas. It also regularly airs "The Good Night Show," a block of programming themed around getting children for bed. The program was originally hosted by Melanie Martinez (no, not that one), prior to Sprout's learning that she had appeared in a parody public service announcement for an online service titled "Technical Virgin". Following a brief series of guest stints, including Noel MacNeal (Bear of Bear in the Big Blue House), the program found a new regular host in Michele Lepe, known on the program as "Nina"; she interacts with another puppet character, Star (a - you guessed it - sentient star). Sprout's on-air continuity once partially consisted of miniseries "The Wiggly Waffle Show" and "The Super Sproutlet Show". As of 2015, though, they've more or less stopped with this.

Sprout maintains an official website where much of their content can be viewed, and also continues their Video-on-Demand service, which features programs available in Spanish (including some no longer aired in English on Sprout) and from time-to-time other programming that has never actually aired on the main Sprout network. They have also sponsored a number of public service initiatives, such as "The Great Sprout Tuck-In" and "Kindness Counts", and each year on Christmas Eve and early Christmas morning air a "snooze-a-thon," which depicts the characters from their various programs sleeping, in order to encourage children that they, too, should be asleep. This has been made available on-demand, and officially, for free, online. All programming on Sprout is rated TV-Y.

Notably, unlike most U.S. networks of this type (i.e. Nick Jr., Disney Junior), Sprout actually airs advertising in-between programs. They have a stated policy of only airing ads targeted at children's parents, rather than children themselves, though naturally some ads might blur those lines. (Ads for The Lorax aired after NBCUniversal gained ownership of the channel, as have ads for direct-to-video movie Barbie Mariposa & The Fairy Princess, distributed by Universal.)

In July 2012, Sprout kicked Qubo to the curb and took over programming NBC and Telemundo's Saturday morning blocks, under the names NBC Kids and MiTelemundo respectively. With the demise of Vortexx, NBC Kids became the last traditional Saturday morning block on a major English-language U.S. commercial TV network to air cartoons, albeit of an educational nature. The block would come to an end in October on 2016, replaced by a Litton Entertainment block branded "The More You Know", based off NBC's long running series of public service announcements. On another note, despite PBS no longer owning a stake, several PBS Kids shows still aired on the network until their contract to do so (except Caillou and The Berenstain Bears, the latter of which hasn't been seen on PBS nationally in years) expired on September 26, 2015.

On April 30, 2017, Sprout general manager Deirdre Brennan announced that NBCUniversal Cable would relaunch Sprout, effective September 9, and re-brand the network as Universal Kids in an attempt to broaden the channel's demographics. Under this new structure, the Sprout brand will be used for preschool programming, running from 3 a.m. to 6 p.m, while Universal Kids will focus on children's content from the Universal archives. Content will include those from DreamWorks Animation (and its subsidiary DreamWorks Classics), and potentially Universal Animation Studios, Walter Lantz Productions and Illumination Entertainment. Additionally, it will also carry both live-action and animated original programming, with the channel's inaugural show being Top Chef Junior, a spin-off of the Bravo Reality Show Top Chef.

If the effort goes well, this could potentially make the channel a viable competitor to the big three kids' networks, among others. It should be noted that not everyone is happy with the revamp however, especially those that had witnessed what NBCUniversal had done to other networks under its wings. A number of people see this as Executive Meddling, network screwing and/or Network Decay, and those who depended on the channel for its wholesome educational content are especially weary of the change. Time will tell how this will turn out.

The following programs are broadcast on Sprout in the United States:

  • Astroblast (Also airs on NBC Kids)
  • The Berenstain Bears
  • Boj
  • Caillou
  • The Chica Show (Also airs on NBC Kids)
  • The Clangers (The remake, also airs on NBC Kids)
  • Chloe's Closet
  • Earth To Luna! (Previously aired on NBC Kids)
  • Floogals (Also airs on NBC Kids)
  • The Good Night Show (nighttime programming block)
  • Lily's Driftwood Bay
  • Little People (2013 reboot started airing in March 2016)
  • Maya the Bee (The 2014 movie and series)
  • Noodle and Doodle (Previously aired on NBC Kids)
  • Jim Henson's Pajanimals (Previously aired on NBC Kids)
  • Nina's Little Fables
  • Ninas World (Also airs on NBC Kids)
  • Noddy, Toyland Detective
  • Poppy Cat (Previously aired on NBC Kids)
  • Ruff Ruff, Tweet, and Dave (Also airs on NBC Kids)
  • Sarah & Duck
  • Space Racers
  • Stella and Sam
  • The Sunny Side Up Show (morning programming block)
  • Super Wings
  • Tree Fu Tom (Previously aired on NBC Kids)
  • Zerby Derby
  • Zou (US only, airs in foreign markets on Disney Junior, Previously aired on NBC Kids)

The following programs no longer air on Sprout but were previously seen on either the channel or on demand:

These programs air on MiTelemundo and Sprout (Spanish for the former):

Alternative Title(s): NBC Kids, PBS Kids Sprout