PBS will begin streaming its member stations via YouTube TV, giving viewers access to all member stations that choose to participate later this year, the public broadcaster said Monday at summer press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif. PBS counts 330 stations among its members.
“We’re excited to launch our very first local livestream on YouTube TV,” said PBS Chief Digital and Marketing Officer Ira Rubenstein in a statement. “Our goal is to reach as many Americans as possible with content that educates, inspires and entertains. As a broadcaster that is rooted in communities, we appreciate YouTube’s commitment to local content, and we are pleased that this service provides audiences with access to programming that is produced and distributed by our member stations.”
Under the agreement, viewers will able to watch PBS’ and PBS Kids’ live channels as well as programs on demand and on YouTube TV’s digital video recorder service with no storage space limits. YouTube TV costs $49.99 per month and offers live access to more than 70 channels. PBS has been working to expand its digital presence through partnerships like this newly forged one with YouTube TV and another with Amazon Prime Channels, which launched in March and offers custom network PBS Living for $2.99 per month.
“We’re thrilled to partner with PBS to introduce both the PBS and PBS KIDS channels to YouTube TV,” said Lori Conkling, global head of partnerships at YouTube, also in a statement. “Audiences of all ages love and trust PBS, and today’s announcement demonstrates our commitment to delivering the best possible lineup for our subscribers.”
PBS also announced Monday that president and CEO Paula Kerger has reupped her contract for five more years, taking the service’s longest-running chief executive officer through 2024.
Kerger has been with PBS since 2006, and during her tenure, the network has improved from being the country’s 14th most-watched network to its sixth, reports The Hollywood Reporter, on the strength of such series as Downton Abbey, Victoria, Call the Midwife and more.
While at press tour, she addressed the issue of federal funding and the battle PBS has to keep having with the current administration to keep that money. Federal funding only makes up about 15 percent of PBS’ overall budget, Kerger said, but that money represents nearly half of the budget for many small-market member stations.
Also on Monday, PBS announced five-part documentary Asian Americans, produced by a team of Asian-American filmmakers, including series producer Renee Tajima-Peña; an episode of American Masters on 87-year-old EGOT winner Rita Moreno with Lin-Manuel Miranda and Norman Lear among the executive producers; and a two-part American Experience on President George W. Bush.
PBS also has Helen Hunt, Sean Bean and Lesley Manville starring in World War II drama World on Fire for Masterpiece, which is a Mammoth Screen (part of ITV Studios) production for the BBC and Masterpiece. The seven-hour series is written by Peter Bowker, developed by Mammoth’s Creative Director Rebecca Keane and executive produced by Peter Bowker, Damien Timmer, and Helen Ziegler for Mammoth Screen, Lucy Richer for the BBC, and Rebecca Eaton for Masterpiece. It’s distributed globally by ITV Studios Global Entertainment.
Another series coming to PBS via Masterpiece in 2020 is Sandition, Andrew Davies’ adaptation of Jane Austen’s final, unfinished novel, starring Theo James, Rose Williams, Anne Reid, Crystal Clarke and Kris Marshall.
On the PBS Kids side, the service, in association with Amazon, is launching a new version of Clifford the Big Red Dog in December, and new series Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum, based on author Brad Meltzer’s book series.