Every episode of PBS' Mister Rogers' Neighborhood will stream on Twitch. For a more than three-decade run on PBS stations from 1968 through 2001, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was one of the most beloved children’s television shows in the history of the medium. Starring former minister Fred Rogers, the series offered daily visits to the Land of Make Believe, and turned all sorts of things into beloved icons of television, from Rogers’ red sweaters and the jazzy score to his change of shoes and that famous trolley.
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood went off the air in 2001 and Rogers died in 2003 at the age of 74. Re-runs aired for a time on PBS but were phased out over the years and the streaming availability of the series has always been dodgy, with a small subset of episodes showing up on Netflix at one point, and YouTube at another time. But now, the Mister Rogers library is getting a new streaming home.
Twitch, the Amazon-owned gaming-oriented social video platform, announced this week that it will stream a marathon of the entire 886-episode Mister Rogers' library, beginning May 15 and wrapping up on June 3. The marathon will include rare episodes, including several that haven’t been seen since they first aired decades ago.
The episodes are available under a unique arrangement in which they will stream on Twitch as part of a marathon that will double as a fundraising campaign for local PBS stations, in the tradition of quarterly pledge drives. All U.S. proceeds, in fact, will go towards PBS. The marathon will run every episode of the series in chronological order, a la FXX’s Every Simpsons Ever marathon, and will follow it with additional “mini-marathons” in the weeks afterwards.
This is a welcome development. In an age when parents have more options than ever for showing their favorite old TV shows and movies to their children, the lack of streaming availability of the Mister Rogers canon has always been a significant gap.
Since 2012, PBS Kids has aired Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, an animated series that functions as a sort of reboot/spinoff of the Mister Rogers' universe, complete with characters, music and other iconography familiar from the original series. It’s a perfectly fine program — albeit one that, in the reboot tradition, drew some angry online pushback from hardcore fans of the original. But it’s unquestionably great news that a lot of children of Twitch-loving adults will have a chance to finally watch the original Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
The Mister Rogers' Neighborhood marathon begins on Twitch May 15 at noon and continues through June 3.