As of August 2013, approximately 55,218,000 American households (48.35% of households with television) receive Sprout.
On October 20, 2004, PBS announced a joint partnership between themselves, Comcast+, HIT Entertainment+, and Sesame Workshop for a then-unnamed preschool children's television channel. On April 4, 2005, Comcast announced that the network's on demand service would launch that day, and that the network itself would launch later on September 1, 2005. It was later pushed to September 26 of that year. When Sprout launched that day, it replaced the PBS Kids+ channel on some providers. It also initially reached 16.5 million homes. ''Boobah+'' was the first program to air on the network at 6AM ET.
When Apax Partners sold HIT Entertainment to Mattel+ in October, 2011, HIT Entertainment's share in Sprout was not included in the deal and was retained by Apax Partners. In November 2013, NBCUniversal+ acquired Apex and PBS's shares in the network, giving it full ownership. As such, the PBS Kids branding was dropped from the network's name, in favor of just '''Sprout'''.
Sprout's schedule consists programming seen on various PBS+ stations (such as ''Sesame Street+'', ''Barney and Friends+'', ''Caillou+'', ''Super Why!+'' and ''Thomas and Friends+''), acquired programming (such as ''LazyTown+'', ''Justin Time'', ''Tree Fu Tom+'' and ''Poppy Cat+'') and its own original programming (''Pajanimals+'', ''The Chica Show+''). Unlike other children's television networks, Sprout would usually air programs (that are packaged into two 11-minute segments) that only last one segment. Sprout also telecast its programming blocks that fills most of the network's schedule. The only times the network doesn't use its program blocks are from 12pm-4pm ET and from 3am-7am ET (3am-9am ET only during the weekends).
In July 2012, a block of Sprout's programming, titled '''NBC Kids+''', started appearing on most NBC affiliates. It replaced the qubo+ program block, which has been there on Saturday mornings since 2006.
NBCUniversal took over management of Sprout in 2011, after NBCUniversal was acquired by the cable system operator Comcast, which was the network’s first managing partner. Initially intended as a home for reruns of shows owned by the partners, Sprout has invested more heavily in original programming in the last year. Under NBCUniversal, Sprout shows like “The Chica Show” have gotten increased visibility as part of NBC’s Saturday morning children’s lineup.
'''''SuperSproutlet Show''''' is aired from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM EST, in the former spot of Wiggly Waffle. It previously aired from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM EST.
'''''Sprout Sharing Show+''''' is aired from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM EST. During this show, videos of kids doing stuff that were "shared" to the Sprout website are shown along with regular Sprout programming.
Sprout HD is the high definition+ simulcast feed of the Sprout channel that was first announced in May 2010 and began broadcasting on September 1, 2010. All programs made in HD are presented in 16:9 widescreen, whereas other non-HD programs are presented in 4:3 letterbox. This feed is currently available on Comcast+, AT&T U-verse+ and Cox Communications+.
Sprout On Demand is the channel's video-on-demand service which launched on April 4, 2005 on Comcast+, before the Sprout channel existed. This service offers 50 hours of programs a month, with 25 percent of the programs updated every two weeks.
* (Frank Ahrens, ''Washington Post'', April 5, 2005)
* (Debra Kaufman, ''TelevisionWeek'', December 5, 2005)
* (Allison J. Waldman, "TelevisionWeek", Nov 27, 2006)
Sprout (TV network)+ Sprout (formerly known as PBS Kids Sprout) is a U.S. digital cable television channel, video-on-demand (VOD) service, and website providing PBS Kids shows and original programming for preschoolers and their families.