PBS lands first streaming deal with YouTube TV

This is the first digital partnership of its kind for PBS. (PBS)

While commercial broadcasters have found plenty of space on streaming TV services, PBS has long been on the outside looking in. But now the organization has its first virtual MVPD carriage deal.

During Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour, PBS today announced that it has secured carriage for its member stations on YouTube TV. This includes live, on-demand and DVR access to PBS and PBS Kids. Starting later this year, YouTube TV will livestream all PBS member stations that choose to participate.

“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.”

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In March, Rubenstein told the Current that PBS was in talks with all the major live-streaming TV services.

“We’ve spoken with every provider that offers live linear streaming,” 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.”

PBS has thus far been absent from virtual MVPDs for a few reasons. There are digital rights that need to be managed, but also there’s a corporate foundation that amounts to a collection of independent stations. Jason Seiken, a former PBS executive who founded PBS Digital Studios and is now CEO of the digital consultancy QCatalyst, told FierceVideo earlier this year that those local stations were wary of how they would factor into the flagship PBS station’s digital plans.

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