Universal Kids (formerly known as Sprout or PBS Kids Sprout) is a children's network that rebranded Sprout under its current name on September 9, 2017 to take the branding of sister company Universal Pictures in order to expand its primetime programming to focus on a wider youth audience aimed at older children.
They continue to broadcast preschool-oriented programming under the "Universal Kids Preschool" branding during daytime hours.
Sprout (formerly PBS Kids Sprout) is a cable channel that was owned by NBCUniversal until the rebranding in 2017. It was originally formed by Comcast in conjunction with Sesame Workshop, PBS and HIT Entertainment in 2005. Sprout is available on many major cable networks, as well as DirecTV. It replaced the PBS Kids Channel that originally was available prior to Sprout's debut.
Apax Partners, the former owners of HIT Entertainment, sold their share of the network in 2013. Mattel did not take said share when it bought the company a year earlier. Sesame Workshop and PBS followed suit, giving NBCUniversal full control of the network.
On September 26, 2015, most of the PBS Kids programming, including Barney, was dropped from the network in an effort to focus on their newer acquisitions and original shows. The Berenstain Bears, Sesame Street and Caillou were the last remaining PBS Kids shows airing on the network as a result.
On May 1, 2017, it was announced that Sprout would rebrand as Universal Kids, and would feature programming for older kids. The rebrand occured on the September 9, 2017, with promos of the upcoming shows playing prior to the change. The Sprout name and branding was still seen during preschool-oriented programming during daytime hours. As of January 26, 2018 (according to Wayback Machine.), the Sprout name was comepletly removed and the name branding was no longer used on the channel.
On December 17, 2018, Barney & Friends returned to Universal Kids after it was initially dumped on September 26, 2015. Fellow HIT Entertainment series Bob the Builder also returned to the channel on April 22, 2019, four months after Barney & Friends aired.
Barney & Friends
Barney & Friends was one of the initial shows on Sprout when it launched, along with other kids' favorites like Sesame Street, Thomas and Friends and Bob the Builder. The show aired on the channel until September 26, 2015, making it one of Sprout's longest lasting programs.
Timeline of Barney & Friends on Universal Kids
December 17, 2018: Barney & Friends returned to television and aired on Universal Kids in a marathon after a three year hiatus from Sprout and a year after the rebranding in 2017. It aired from Monday to Friday from 10AM to 1PM, with episodes from seasons eight, eleven and tweleve.
February 14, 2019: Barney & Friends airs a marathon from 10AM to 3PM in honor of Valentine's Day, titled Barney's Super-Dee-Duper Valentine's Day Marathon. Beginning on February 9th, the network released a Valentine's Day Facebook themed profile frame filter of Barney. The filter lasted for a week.
February 18, 2019: In honor of a showing of How to Train Your Dragon on Universal Kids, the network hosted a marathon of Dragons and Dinosaurs featuring shows such as Dino Dan, The Land Before Time, and Barney & Friends. The Barney & Friends Marathon lasted from 6:30AM - 10AM and mainly consisted of season twelve episodes excluding "Glad to Be Me" / "Arts".
July 27, 2019: Barney & Friends was given a hiatus on the Universal Kids schedule. The show was still available via the Universal Kids app and VOD.
January 25: Barney & Friends was removed from the Universal Kids schedule.
June 27, 2020: After a long hiatus from airing on the network Universal Kids airs a Barney & Friends marathon under the title Summer Games with Barney & Friends, Vol. 1. The marathon lasted from 6AM-8AM. The marathon was in honor of Universal Kids' Camp Play S'more! After Barney & Friends, the network continued the Summer Games with marathon with other shows.
June 28, 2020: Summer Games with Barney & Friends, Vol. 2 aired from 6AM-8AM, consisting of different episodes from volume one.