Sesame Street’s amazing content engine

Last week Sesame Street’s YouTube channel hit the 1 billion views mark and celebrated with a post on the YouTube blog written by, of course, The Count and a fun video marking the occasion and thanking fans. Because the internet loves Sesame Street this got a lot of pickup, and rightly so since it was a great special treat for the fans that had propelled it to such success.

But what was overlooked in much of the discussion is just how amazing Sesame Street’s content production engine is. They’re constantly churning out fun things, from original material like this to executions like their recent Twitter-based re-telling of the classic book There’s a Monster at the End of This Book. How are they able to do all this? A few things come to mind:

  1. They have creative people and let them do their thing. There has to be a willingness to throw stuff out there and see what sticks. For every one execution that reaches the front page of Mashable there are probably 20 that appeal mainly to fans, and even within that there is sure to be material that’s more popular than the rest. But they keep the machine rolling and the best stuff bubbles to the top.
  2. They remain true to their brand. There’s not a thing that they do that wouldn’t be right at home on the core show, which at this point is as much of an intellectual property repository as it is an educational kids program. None of it feels forced, none of it feels like they’re stretching to reach a broad audience with something “edgy” or anything else. It all fits.
  3. They look for ways to put a new spin on old material. The Monster at the End of This Book execution is a great example of this, but the team as a whole seems to be constantly mining the archives for material they can dust off and refresh for a new generation and a new audience.
  4. They understand that nostalgia is a driving factor. How many of those billion views are from adults who still find the show charming and full of warm memories of their own childhood, regardless of whether or not they have kids of their own.

These are important content lessons any brand publisher can learn. Not everything can be a ball-out-of-the-park success, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with playing small-ball. When you add up a handful of doubles and add in a couple home runs while sticking to fundamental skills and best practices you’ll win many more games than you lose and you’ll amass a lot of fans in the process.

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