PBS in talks to join streaming TV services by the end of the year

PBS is planning to offer same-time streaming access to shows as they appear on its broadcast channels beginning April 1. (PBS)

PBS is advancing its streaming video strategy and that in part means continuing to move forward with deals to secure carriage on streaming TV services like Sling TV and Hulu with Live TV.

According to the Current, PBS hopes to have deals in place with streaming TV services by the end of the 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.”


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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 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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But virtual MVPD deals are not the only priority right now in PBS’ streaming strategy. The company is also working on updating its own apps and augmenting existing deals with partners like Amazon.

As the report points out, PBS is planning to offer same-time streaming access to shows as they appear on its broadcast channels beginning April 1. PBS has apps available Amazon Fire TV, iOS, Android, Android TV and Roku, and the channel also offers online video access through its websites.

That update arrives a few weeks after the company launched its PBS Living streaming channel, in cooperation with WGBH in Boston. The service is available through Amazon Prime Video Channels and charges $2.99 per month for on-demand access to PBS shows including “This Old House” and “Antiques Roadshow.”

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