PBS Apps Are The Best Kept Secret In Streaming Video

PBS offers plenty of great streaming content so give it a try

My guest this week Stream On powered by Casper, is the Chief Digital and Marketing Officer, Ira Rubenstein. He leads digital consumer experiences and marketing for PBS. In this role, Mr. Rubenstein focuses on continuing PBS’ digital evolution through the development, implementation, and scaling of world-class digital services and marketing content strategies. He also oversees the business intelligence group and leads comprehensive marketing programs to acquire, retain and engage audiences across platforms for the benefit of member stations.

We touch on a number of subjects including why PBS might just be one of the best-kept secrets in the streaming video world. Their apps are free and require no pay TV subscription to access.


There is PBS Kids, which is a totally free app that you can watch on-demand content on your computer, tablet, smartphone or streaming device which in my case is ROKU.

As for the PBS app, that to doesn’t require a pay TV subscription to access it. There is plenty of quality streaming content including on-demand programs like the PBS News Hour, along with lots of locally produced shows from your local PBS outlet and two weeks of the current content like Victoria, which is on Masterpiece Theatre.

PBS has an addition pay subscription part of the app called PBS Passport. The service showcases a library that currently offers members more than 1,000 episodes from popular shows like American Experience, American Masters, Antiques Roadshow, Nature, NOVA, and Masterpiece — including all six seasons of Downton Abbey. In addition to these signature series, the library is full of public television’s acclaimed arts, science, history, and lifestyle programs; including How We Got to Now, Earth a New Wild, Austin City Limits, and a rotating selection of films from Ken Burns. More shows are being added all the time.

Despite being the best-kept secret in the streaming video world PBS has had some impressive wins. Most recently it was in the documentary area that the network had a massive streaming win.

The Vietnam War from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick reached 33.8 million unique television viewers and generated 7.8 million streams during its 10-episode run. Each installment delivered an average of 6.7 million viewers per minute, nearly triple PBS¹ 2016-17 primetime average, and drove PBS¹ No. 2 and No. 7 most-watched weeks on modern record, respectively. The premiere episode was streamed over 2 million times through the end of October 2017, making it the most-streamed series premiere in PBS history. (Nielsen Power; Google Analytics)

As the total streaming numbers, they were very impressive across the board. Americans watched 247 million videos across all of PBS¹ web, mobile and connected device platforms in December 2017; 58% of these streams were delivered on a mobile platform. (Google Analytics, 12/2017)

As for the PBS Kids app, they racked up 145 million streams in December alone.

Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.