The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) has announced a deal for several programs to be streamed on the Hulu Web site. Among the shows featured will be “Nova,” “Wired Science,” “Carrier” and “Scientific American Frontiers” along with a 30-second advertisement before each program. Revenues will be split between Hulu and PBS.
PBS, being a not-for-profit, citizen funded television network has embraced the Internet despite a previous hesitation. Due to constraints affecting copyrights and affiliate connections, PBS has been weary of venturing in distributing their shows online; would consumers be more or less likely to donate during pledge drives if they can access the shows through other media outlets?PBS is careful to limit the type of commercials, disallowing tobacco and political advertising, among others. They are also very cautious about adhering to the values that have made PBS successful and non-commercial. However, they understand the significance of being online and as a result have been building their own ad sales staff so they can sell the commercials on their Internet video themselves. In addition, a redesign of pbs.org is in the works and will feature more shows online. They also intend to continue to sell programs via iTunes.
Andrew Russell, the senior vice president who runs PBS Ventures, said that by "exploring digital distribution with the programs that the network does have rights to, it hopes to build the case to show that producers should let it distribute their shows online". Offering a good share of the advertising revenue or download fees are sure to persuade as does the promise of showcasing corporate and foundation sponsors to a wider audience.
Speaking of audiences, PBS is working to help the local affiliates by linking to them from its site, as well as adding more recent programs on PBS.org and for sale on iTunes. Indeed, times are a changin' and even PBS knows that it can extend its impact on the public by distributing their broadcasts through a variety of media channels.