It takes around 414 hours to watch all 886 episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and thousands of people around the world are embracing the continuous stream of programming.
The Fred Rogers Company—the television production studio created by Fred Rogers and later named for him—is livestreaming all 31 seasons back-to-back on Twitch.TV, an online video streaming platform.
Twitch.TV hosted the marathon twice last year, but this week’s iteration holds a special meaning for fans. It started on Tuesday, March 20, which would have been Fred Rogers’ 90th birthday.
90.5 WESA calculated that the livestream should wrap up sometime around April 7, when Mister Rogers will don his final red cardigan and sing, “I’m proud of you. I hope that you’re as proud as I am... I hope that you’re proud of you, too.”
Until those final moments, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is commanding an impressive audience on Twitch.TV. The livestream has been viewed more than 7.4 million times, typically just over 1,000 people usually tune in at once.
The streaming platform’s Mister Rogers chatroom is ablaze with conversation as fans follow him through the decades. They banter back and forth about how soothing they find Rogers’ voice and whether he should be canonized as a saint. As the beginning credits of an episode roll, fans try to guess what color cardigan he might put on. They encourage each other to donate to PBS. And fans are even using special emojis—like the iconic red trolley or X the Owl—to communicate their adoration.
Kristin Wirick, 33, lives in Mount Washington. She writes that she started watching the marathon at 7 a.m. on Wednesday and has kept the program running in the background as she works.
“Listening to Mister Rogers and his message of love and acceptance is a great reminder that not everything in the world is upsetting, frustrating, or otherwise disappointing,” Wirick writes in an email. “Just the opposite, in fact -- you can always find a silver lining and a reason to love.”
Wirick gifted $4.99 Twitch Prime subscriptions to 16 random viewers on Wednesday, so that they can have access to the special Mister Rogers emojis and watch the stream ad-free. “I'm delighted to share it with others who share my same sense of nostalgia,” she explained.
Many of the Twitch.TV viewers said they’re tuning in to spend a little more time with a man who they’ve always considered a friend. “As a child I didn't have very many friends but I always felt I had a friend in Mr. Rogers. He made me feel like I actually mattered,” Matt Smith, 28, of North Carolina writes.
“I discovered Mr. Rogers when I was four and loved that there was a man on TV who told me he liked me just the way I was,” said Camille Calman, 55, of New York.
Jacqueline Xu, 23 years old and another New York resident, said the show helped her adjust as a child in a new country 18 years ago. “I used to watch Mister Rogers' Neighborhood when I was a kid, newly immigrated from China. I picked up English and learned a lot about American culture and life as a kid watching the show, and it was peaceful to watch this when home life was tumultuous,” she wrote.
Twitch.TV viewer Hasan Mahmood, 32, in Covina, Calif. grew up in the Middle East where he didn’t have access to the show. “So my grandmother from California would send care packages to my Mom, and among them were tapes with recordings of various episodes. As a younger kid, it was one of the best things she used to send. I didn't see many episodes, but I loved the show, regardless.”
Christie Taylor, 47, of New York, said that the marathon helps her decompress after a stressful work day. “But above all, watching Mr. Rogers simply makes me happy.”
Young and old, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood continues to influence people all over the world, and the Twitch.TV marathon provides a platform for them to come together and appreciate their childhood hero.
Pittsburghers can don their coziest cardigans and tune in to the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood livestream here.