The framework for PBS Kids was established as part of PBS's "Ready to Learn" initiative, a project intended to facilitate access of early childhood educational programming to underprivileged children. On July 11, 1994, PBS repackaged their existing children's educational programming as a new block called "PTV". In addition to scheduled educational programming, PTV also incorporated interstitial content such as "The P-Pals", which featured animated characters shaped like PBS logos delivering educational content from their fictional world, "PTV Park". These interstitial shorts were aimed at younger children. Older children were targeted with live action and music video interstitials.
Several of the interstitial shorts, along with some of the station identification sequences that were shown during the block, continued to be used by some PBS member stations after PTV aired for the last time on September 5, 1999.
On September 6, 1999, PBS launched the PBS Kids brand in several areas including its daytime Ready to Learn Service, PBS Online web pages for kids, and a home video label. Children's programming on the PBS network was then given unified branding. Along with the block of programming on PBS, PBS Kids lent its name to a separate television network, which launched on the same date and was targeted to children from 4 to 7 years old. The PBS Kids Channel ran for six years.
On September 30, 2000, the Bookworm Bunch programming block was introduced as PBS Kids' Saturday morning block. PBS Kids Go!, a programming block targeting older children, was launched in October 2004.
Block and local channels
The network was shut down on September 26, 2005, in favor of a new commercial cable and satellite joint venture channel, PBS Kids Sprout, which was developed in partnership with two producers and Comcast (who later bought full control of the network via NBCUniversal). PBS gave licensees an option to sign on Sprout promoters while most of the other half programmed their own children's channel. PBS offered a replacement early school-aged kids network based on the block PBS Kids Go! by April 2006 to be launched in October 2006, but was cancelled before launch.
On May 8, 2013, PBS Kids programming was added to the Roku streaming player. As of October 7, 2013, to coincide with the debut of Peg + Cat, PBS Kids received another graphic redesign and the PBS Kids Go! block and branding were dropped.
PBS Kids network was relaunched on January 16, 2017 with a live stream of the channel on the PBS Kids website and video app; no changes were made to the main PBS Kids block. The block is counter programmed from the network, thus the same show would not be shown at the same time on the network and block.