PASADENA, Calif. – You wanted to watch Monday’s Frontline episode through the broadcast and you signed up for the $ 50 alternative cable television application from YouTube because you heard that PBS is now available on the alternative cable television service.
Uh oh You could have had a rude surprise.
Yes, PBS finally entered the digital era and make your programming available to fans of cutting the cable in December, with an application that offers the full line of local PBS stations. But add a great qualifier because in the second largest television market in the country, Los Angeles, many of the exclusive programs are not available on the first run (such as “Masterpiece “), or are, like” First line,“ But several days later.
And PBS is not yet available on other streaming services such as Sling, AT&T Now or Hulu with Live TV.
PBS response: There is an application for that, and it is called PBS. Possibly the best streaming offer.
The PBS streaming application, which is available on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick and other platforms, has the full line of PBS programs, but again with warnings. Programs come and go fast, unless you donate a minimum of $ 5 per month to your local PBS station as a member of the “Passport,” or a tenth of a monthly payment to YouTube.
By comparison, the CBS All Access application, which offers all its programs, with ads, costs $ 5.99 per month, and Hulu, which offers a home with advertising to watch ABC, NBC and Fox network programs, usually a day later of the initial issue, it is $ 5.99.
The Passport application has no ads.
The challenge of PBS is to make people realize.
Ira Rubenstein appears in industry panels all the time exalting the virtues of Public Broadcasting’s role in the digital universe.
But when he mentions that the PBS application and how involved the publicly funded network is on digital, “people are surprised,” says Rubenstein, digital director of PBS. “We are like a big secret.”
Rate increase: Cutting the cable for live channels will cost more as Sling TV gets a price increase
He attributes it to the advertising budgets of the network and transmission service compared to what he has to work on.
“It’s my job to raise that,” he says.
He estimates that about 5% to 10% of the total PBS audience is now broadcasting and says that the audience would be larger if more younger viewers knew the application.
He believes it is something “generational,” where young adults are simply not regular PBS viewers. So Rubenstein has been testing ways to get where they live. Recently published full episodes of “Frontline“ on the free YouTube service, where “it has reached a much younger audience,” he says. “It’s possible that those viewers will never broadcast again, and that’s fine; they’re consuming the content. What I think we can do, and we have to do, is make sure the content is available everywhere.”
To help achieve that goal, PBS launched on YouTube TV with 100 stations and the PBS Kids app, but now there are also more than 200 stations there, with just over 100 more.
PBS says those stations will join the lineup shortly.
But in some markets where there are multiple PBS stations, such as L.A., where there are four, not all of them fit. KCET, the other principal affiliate of L.A. PBS, was approved, along with PBS Kids, because it offers more locally produced programming that is not available on other platforms, says Rubenstein.
He says he is looking for a solution for the Los Angeles market.
“The cheapest alternative to cable is to buy an antenna,” says Luke Bouma, editor of Cordcuttersnews. The antennas begin around $ 40 and they are much more powerful than the old rabbit ears from previous years because they come with tuners to increase the signal. With an antenna, you can collect all the local stations, but because it is linear television, viewers are forced to watch the programs when they are broadcast.
Meanwhile, the PBS application is free and has some archived programs. But beyond news programming, many of the programs tend to be preview clips unless you pay to maintain your local station.
In the application, Rubenstein has been experimenting with “binge” programs, similar to how applications like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video do, allowing viewers to watch a full season at once, instead of waiting for the latest weekly.
The newest masterpiece, “Sanditon,” which premiered on Sunday, is available on the PBS application (not on YouTube TV) in full-season binge mode, with all eight episodes. When Ken Burns’ documentary “Country Music” debuted last year as a four-part series, each edition was aired on PBS stations weekly, while all four were available in the application.
“It was an effort to raise awareness,” says Rubenstein. Whether an effective programming strategy, “the jury is still out.”
As for the other alternative cable television services, Rubenstein says that closing agreements with people like Hulu with Live TV and Sling is a priority: “Our goal is to reach everyone we can.”
For now, beyond the various applications, PBS and “Frontline” fans could go to the old school and visit the PBS website on computers or on the mobile web, where the first full episode of Monday’s documentary and the US polarization was available in the afternoon, along with the episode next Monday as well.
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