PBS Has Big Bird's Back While 'Sesame Street' Source Downplays Extinction Fears

PBS Has Big Bird's Back While 'Sesame Street' Source Downplays Extinction Fears

Big Bird has some equally large friends.

Mitt Romney’s promise to end federal funding for PBS – the station which carries the “Street” where Big Bird lives – drew the ire of PBS itself via a nameless response.

“Governor Romney does not understand the value the American people place on public broadcasting and the outstanding return on investment the system delivers to our nation,” it said. “Elimination of funding would have virtually no impact on the nation’s debt. Yet the loss to the American public would be devastating.”

That doesn’t mean Big Bird will become extinct, though.

The makers of Sesame Street earlier this week muddied the waters for PBS funding when Sherrie Westin of Sesame Workshop told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien that cutting PBS funding will not in fact kill Big Bird.

“So quite frankly, you can debate whether or not there should be funding of public broadcasting. But when they always try to trot out Big Bird, and say we’re going to kill Big Bird — that is actually misleading, because Sesame Street will be here,” she said, prior Romney’s remarks.

Left unsaid in the debate over PBS and its fine feathered friend is the amount of money hauled in from Big Bird-related merchandise.

No matter where you stand on the issue, Romney’s vow clearly had an impact with viewers. That debate segment became the most rewatched portion of the debate.

To gather the data, said senior vp Tara Maitra, TiVo takes an anonymous viewing sample from its users — down to the secon — in order to determine viewing behavior, including by political affiliation.

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