KUED Says Goodbye to 'Thomas & Friends'

UPDATE: Mattel, which now owns the rights to Thomas & Friends, recently announced that Thomas & Friends will begin airing on Nick Jr. starting in March.

Like Thomas's countless adventures, all good things must come to an end. Starting January 1, 2018, Thomas & Friends will be retiring from the PBS Kids program schedule, as the broadcast rights to the program reach their expiration date. Since its premiere decades ago, Thomas & Friends has helped young children build social-emotional skills, and we're sad to see it go.

“Multiple generations of young children have learned from the hard working Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends,” says Elise Brimhall, KUED's Education Coordinator.

This schedule change has also given us space to introduce a new series, Pinkalicious & Peterrific, a series grounded in a creative arts and self-expression curriculum, based on the best-selling books by Victoria Kann and produced by WGBH Boston. The series will air in the time slots that resonate best with the preschool audience toward which it is geared.


Why is PBS changing the PBS KIDS schedule?

Reaching and engaging viewers with new, curriculum-based content is critical in helping us deliver on our mission to use the power of media to support children’s learning. The PBS KIDS schedule is updated on a regular basis to ensure that we are building as much engagement with our audience as possible and maximizing our reach among families. Schedule changes enable us to add new series to the schedule, such as PINKALICIOUS & PETERRIFIC, and ensure that we are scheduling our existing shows during time slots that are resonating with our audience and its dynamic viewing trends.           

When are the schedules changing?

The schedule change will take place in two phases:

  • On January 1, new schedules will launch for stations’ primary channels and the PBS KIDS 24/7 channel and live stream.
  • On February 19, PINKALICIOUS & PETERRIFIC will enter the daily schedule on stations’ primary channels and the PBS KIDS 24/7 channel and live stream.  

Why are the rights to THOMAS & FRIENDS ending?

As rights have now expired, PBS will no longer feed shows of THOMAS & FRIENDS after December 31, 2017.

Is the departure of THOMAS & FRIENDS similar to SESAME STREET’s move to HBO?

THOMAS & FRIENDS is moving off of our schedule because broadcast rights have now expired, which happens from time to time with PBS KIDS programming.

SESAME STREET is still in rights and continues to air on PBS stations as part of the PBS KIDS service. Sesame Workshop’s partnership with HBO does not change the fundamental role PBS and stations play in the lives of families.

Is THOMAS & FRIENDS moving to another network?

Mattel, the producers of THOMAS & FRIENDS, is a separate, independent organization and would be in the best position to address your question.

If educational shows like THOMAS & FRIENDS aren’t on PBS anymore, why should you receive federal funding?

PBS KIDS and member stations are dedicated to offering curriculum-based media content designed to meet the needs of today’s kids. The PBS KIDS service is comprised of more than 20 series that have been developed with the needs of today’s children in mind to help prepare them for success in school and life. Our series focus on fundamental academic areas – such as literacy, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) – as well as collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity, which research has shown are increasingly important skills in the 21st-century classroom and workplace. 

Any cut to federal funding for public broadcasting would result in a tremendous loss to our nation, and would especially hurt stations in rural and underserved areas as well as children, teachers and families who rely on our trusted educational content.

Other than THOMAS & FRIENDS and PINKALICIOUS & PETERRIFIC, are any other series leaving or entering the schedule?

Yes, PBS will end regular feeds of MARTHA SPEAKS beginning January 1. In addition, PEEP AND THE BIG WIDE WORLD will join the PBS KIDS 24/7 channel and live stream on January 1. The series, produced by WGBH Boston and formerly distributed by American Public Television (APT), is designed to introduce preschoolers to early science and technology concepts. It follows a newly hatched chicken named Peep and his friends Chirp and Quack (a robin and a duck) on their daily adventures.

Is the PBS primary channel weekend schedule also changing?

Yes, on stations’ primary channels, the new Saturday and Sunday schedules take effect the weekend of January 6. PINKALICIOUS & PETERRIFIC joins the weekend feed on February 24 and will air at 8:00 AM on Saturdays and Sundays.

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