15 MAY, 2013

Top-rated series to air Monday-Friday beginning in October.

Today at PBS’ Annual Meeting with its member stations, PBS KIDS announced that Thomas & Friends™ will move to its daily schedule starting on October 7, 2013 (check local listings). This will move Thomas & Friends from weekend syndication to a national distribution, where its coverage will reach over 95 million households each month.* Thomas & Friends is produced by HIT Entertainment, in association with THIRTEEN for WNET.

In addition, a dedicated THOMAS & FRIENDS site will be added to award-winning PBSKIDS.org, which averages over 13 million unique visitors and 210 million video streams per month (Google Analytics Event Tracking Jan-Mar 2013). Beginning in August, THOMAS & FRIENDS will also be featured on the PBS KIDS online video player and the PBS KIDS Video App. Accompanying the schedule move will be an all-new season of CG-animated episodes of Thomas & Friends and a national broadcast of the upcoming 60-minute movie special, “King of the Railway.”

 “We are excited to welcome Thomas & Friends to our weekday schedule and to bring all new adventures grounded in the series’ social-emotional curriculum to children across America,” said Lesli Rotenberg, General Manager, Children’s Programming, PBS. “Thomas & Friends will join other PBS KIDS favorites, includingCurious George, The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That!Dinosaur Train and Super Why!, as part of our children’s programming lineup, which is designed to use the power of media to help kids build key skills for success in school and in life.”

 “From its roots in publishing when the Rev. W. Awdry wrote The Railway Series, Thomas & Friends has always been brought to life in the hearts and imaginations of preschoolers with great characters and stories. We are so pleased to partner with PBS KIDS to bring the adventures of Thomas and his engine friends to nearly every U.S. household five days a week,” said Claudia Scott-Hansen, Group Director, Broadcast Americas, HIT Entertainment. “The popularity of the Thomas & Friends series is at an all-time high, and we expect this move to continue the momentum of the brand.”

The move to the national feed follows a successful ratings year for the preschool television series, with Thomas & Friends rating in the top five most-watched preschool shows since August 2012.** Thomas & Friends also experienced a year-on-year kids 2-5 audience increase of 32 percent in January 2013, as well as a 55 percent audience increase from two years ago (January 2011 to January 2013).** PBS KIDS is home to many of the top-rated preschool programs, including Curious George, The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That! and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.

For air times of Thomas & Friends episodes, viewers can check their local listings.

*Source: PBS Research, Carriage 2.0 database, 4Q12 monthly average US coverage

**Source: PBS Top Rated Kids Programs and Monthly Highlights Report. NPower, Live+7 Days national ratings for PBS and select competitive cable networks, for 12/27/2010 - 01/30/2011, 12/26/2011 - 1/29/2012, 07/30/2012 - 08/26/2012 to 2/25/2013 - 3/31/2013. Telecasts are accumulated across the entire week based on unique program names only, with a minimum duration of 15 minutes and four or more telecasts per month required for inclusion.