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'''.
List of programs broadcast by 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.
*'''Kelly''' (Kelly Vrooman+), '''Sean''' (Sean Roach+), '''Dennisha''' (Dennisha Pratt+) and '''Carly''' (Carly Ciarrocchi+) are the four human hosts of ''The Sunny Side Up Show'', which premiered on September 26, 2007. On a rotating schedule (one of them hosts each week), they introduce programs and lead themed activities, along with co-host puppet Chica and an occasional guest co-host such as Elmo+, Barney+, or Big Bird+. Regular features include "The Good Egg Awards", celebrating the accomplishments of "Sproutlets" (viewers); "Manners With Molly", a weekly etiquette question appropriate for the preschool set; and a several-times-daily celebration of viewer birthdays, with a crawl of names and ages traveling across the bottom of the screen.
*'''Chica''' is a chicken puppet who co-hosts ''The Sunny Side Up Show'' with Kelly, Sean, Dennisha and Carly. She lives in a place called The Sunshine Barn, and cannot speak but has a kazoo for a voice. Her character was introduced on the aforementioned premiere of ''The Sunny Side Up Show''. She also makes occasional appearances on the "Sprout Sharing Show".
*'''Mr. Mailman''' is a cartoon character who delivers birthday cards and mail. Originally a part of ''The Birthday Show'', the character was then featured in ''The Many Adventures of Mr. Mailman+''. Mr. Mailman and his daily duties were absorbed into ''The Sunny Side Up Show'' on September 26, 2007.
*'''Kevin''' (Kevin Yamada+) left the show on December 25, 2009. During his final appearance, he informed The viewers that he was moving away to the big city (New York City) and he wasn't going to play with Chica in the Sunshine Barn anymore. He hosted the Birthday Show before ''The Sunny Side Up Show''. He was replaced by Dennisha Pratt.
*'''Liz''' (Liz Filios+) announced her departure from the show on June 1, 2012. In her final appearance, she informed the viewers that she was leaving the Sunshine Barn so that she can travel around the world. She was replaced by Carly Ciarrocchi on June 18.
'''''SuperSproutlet Show''''' is aired from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM, in the former spot of Wiggly Waffle. It previously aired from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM.
'''''Sprout Sharing Show+''''' is aired from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM. During this show, videos of kids doing stuff that were "shared" to the Sprout website are shown along with regular Sprout programming.
*'''Nina''' (Michele Lepe+) is the current host of ''Good Night Show''. She also makes occasional appearances on ''The Sunny Side Up Show'' .
*'''Star''', a star-shaped puppet, puppeteered and voiced by actress Stacia Newcomb, is the co-host of '' Good Night Show''. Star serves as the child character of the show, asking questions about the evening's theme, or encouraging viewers to follow him as he performs nighttime routines such as brushing his teeth or reading a bedtime story.
*'''Lucy''' is a firefly puppet used to introduce shows on '' Good Night Show''. She was also featured in games, such as "Lucy Light the Way"; in this game, viewers are shown parts of a picture (as though they were illuminated by a firefly's light) and viewers then guess what the picture represents. She has never spoken. Her puppet was updated in mid-2009.
*'''Hush''' is a real-life goldfish who was used to introduce episodes on '' Good Night Show''. He currently still appears when Nina and Star feed Hush and at the end of every show, as Nina closes the show by "saying good night to Hush" and reciting a poem in which viewers are encouraged to "make a wish". Fish of Hush's kind are purchased by the dozen because they die so often.
*'''Melanie''' was the original host of '' Good Night Show'' when it premiered in 2005. She was portrayed by Melanie Martinez+. She was fired from the show in 2006, reportedly due to concerns over inappropriate content in a satirical film she had appeared in while in college.
*'''Leo''', played by Noel MacNeal+, was the interim host of ''The Good Night Show'' after Melanie's dismissal. He filled in as guest host of '' Good Night Show'' until Nina became the new host of '' Good Night Show'' in late 2006.
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.
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.