PBS, (or The Public Broadcasting Service) is an American public broadcaster and television program distributor made up of more than 350 member television stations. PBS is an independently operated non-profit organization, headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, US.
It aired Shining Time Station (starting on 29 January 1989), along with other kids shows during the PTV Park era in the mid 90's. Its primary fundraiser is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It began airing Thomas & Friends in its normal form under the PBS Kids banner on Sunday 5 September 2004 using the airings from Nick Jr. UK, redubbing it with Michael Brandon's narration and starting the airings with Season 8 paired with a Season 7 episode in each airing. Thomas & Friends currently aired on PBS in the United States on weekends and new episodes on Sundays. In 2011, Thomas started coming more often on weekdays. On 15 May 2013, PBS Kids announced that Thomas & Friends would moved to the daily schedule on weekdays that started on 7 October 2013 when Season 17 premiered, due to an increase in ratings of nearly 110 million households. The model airings stopped airing on September 2013, airing the CGI Series more often. A microsite was added on the PBS Kids website as well. An underwriting spot was added on 21 September 2013 with the narrator of Thomas & Friends, Mark Moraghan announcing it.
PBS Kids Sprout started to release Thomas on Comcast On-Demand on 4 April 2005 and 13 September 2005 on TV. They aired most of the entire classic series as individual episodes, with restored versions of the first four seasons, for the first time in the US. Thomas and a lot of shows stopped airing on Sprout in Autumn 2015 because NBC Universal/Comcast took full control of the channel and dropped PBS Kids from their branding, the channel is now called Universal Kids.
On 16 January 2017, PBS launched a brand new 24/7/365 channel, called PBS Kids Channel. Thomas aired in a daily hour-long slot at 11am EST.
Thomas & Friends partnership with PBS ended on 31 December 2017. In addition, the website was removed on 19 December 2017.
Starting 17 December 2017, Thomas & Friends aired on Nickelodeon for a limited time. It began airing full time on Nick Jr. in March 2018.
- On 10 February 2018, an old Thomas ad from the CGI Series aired, advertising Thomas on PBS, despite the series' partnership with PBS ending. Thomas still also appears in several PBS promo ads.
- During the airings for the Season 19 episodes, PBS had mistaken a few Season 18 episodes as part of it on an advertisement for the episodes' airings.
- When PBS Kids Sprout celebrated their tenth anniversary, it was announced that some kids shows, including Thomas, were not going to be broadcasted on their channel anymore.