Twitch's marathon of the beloved program Mister Rogers' Neighborhood has raised thousands of dollars so far in support of public broadcasting. Fans of a certain age have long lamented that the series, one of the most important children’s television shows in history, has never had any kind of longterm streaming availability. A few subsets of episodes and seasons have come up on Netflix from time to time, as well as YouTube, but the beloved show has never been collected in one place to stream.
That’s why Mister Rogers fans were gladdened earlier this month when Twitch, the Amazon-owned, gaming-focused streaming service, announced plans for a streamed marathon of all 886 episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which aired on PBS from 1968 through 2001. Not only would the marathon include every episode, including some not seen since their original airings decades ago, but the marathon would double as a fundraiser for local PBS stations. Now we know just how successful that fundraiser has been.
Twitch said Tuesday that the marathon has raised nearly $20,000 for PBS stations, and been viewed by 4.4 million people, the New York Magazine blog Selectall reported. In addition, more than 300 people have contributed their thoughts about Mister Rogers, in messages that have been interspersed with the episodes.
The marathon has launched as efforts in Washington to cut federal funding for PBS and other public broadcasters in the federal budget is once again in the news. The marathon, which began May 15, is scheduled to run continuously through June 3, with additional “mini-marathons” to come in the weeks afterwards.
The success of the streaming marathon shows that even 16 years after the end of the series and 14 years after Rogers’ death, the love and affection for Mister Rogers is still very much an active force. Another examples of this? Following the terrorist attack at the Adriana Grande in Manchester, England, Monday night, many people on social media shared Rogers’ message about “look for the helpers” in the event of a tragedy, as well as journalist Anthony Breznican’s moving tweetstorm about the time he met Mr. Rogers.
In an ideal world it wouldn’t require a streamed marathon to raise an adequate amount of funding for PBS stations, and a show as seminal as Mister Rogers' Neighborhood would have been accessible to stream all along. But the Twitch marathon shows that at least 4 million people still have great affection for the late Fred Rogers.
The Mister Rogers marathon continues through June 4, 2017 on Twitch.