Last year PBS announced efforts to launch on live TV streaming services like Hulu and YouTube TV. They carefully warned though that while PBS owns the rights to many of the syndicated shows the local content is owned by 350 plus member stations that PBS as a parent company does not own or control. This meant that PBS had to work with their partner stations before they could launch on services like Hulu, DIRECTV NOW, YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, and more. Now it looks like PBS is getting closer to launching on live TV streaming services.
Last week PBS’s CDO once again announced that they are in talks with live TV streaming services with the hopes of launching on them this year. “We’ve spoken with every provider that offers live linear streaming,” PBS Chief Digital Officer Ira Rubenstein told the publication. “Some are open to having local station feeds, and some absolutely won’t. Obviously, we are talking only to those that support the local streams.”
This is very in line with what PBS’s CEO said last year. “We’ve been in discussions with them,” CEO Paula Kerger said during PBS’s Winter TCA executive session. “I’m not making any announcements today. But stay tuned. We definitely are in discussions. We think that’s certainly a place that our viewers would appreciate.”
Kreger went on to say they are also looking at options to team up with services like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon. “I think that part of the challenge that we have is making sure that we’re punching through the fray so that people are aware of the programs that are on public television, that are available through their local stations,” said Kerger. “I mean there are a lot of people that go to the Netflixes and then just get lost in the jukebox effect of scrolling through lots of stuff…We look for ways to bring them into their local station.”
According to PBS one of the main issues was live TV streaming services asking for a national feed of PBS vs. taking each local feed. PBS made it clear they are only interested in offering local feeds for PBS in an effort to help protect their 350 member stations. So well WGBH is launching this year we are unsure how many will be going live in 2019 as smaller PBS stations will likely take longer to go live.
For now, we will have to wait and see what happens. What we do know is PBS is very serious about getting their content on streaming services for cord cutters.
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