Science and History programs are anchors of PBS’s programming strategy.
This series of posts covers the audience and pipeline for these two popular genres.
The Big Picture Chart:
- Science: NOVA.
- History: American Experience, American Masters and Secrets Of The Dead.
- Other genres captured in the Series Ranker are Drama (Masterpiece Theater, until recently driven by Downton Abbey), Lifestyle (Antiques Roadshow, Great British Baking Show), Current Affairs (Frontline) and ‘Indie Documentary’ (Independent Lens & POV).
- PBS is a private non-profit corporation whose members are America’s 350 public TV stations that reach nearly all 119.6 million US TV homes
- PBS’s average primetime rating of 1.41 translates as an audience of 2,116,000.
- The average age of PBS viewers is 65.
Volume of Originals / Year (Est)
- History: 70+ hours
- Science: 40-50 hours
- Natural History: 30-40
- Total: 140-160
I find it helpful to view PBS’s primetime programs as originating from three sources that are closely tied by mission, strategy, funding, cost-sharing, promotions and much more.
- The weekly primetime strands are presented by the main producing stations, WGBH, WNET and WETA.
- PBS National, providing limited series and specials.
- And blockbuster series like this season’s THE VIETNAM WAR from Ken Burns & Lynn Novick.
Smaller PBS stations, American Public Television and other distributors also present programs for the PBS system.
Thanks for this Series of Posts
- I’m very grateful to the PBS Business Intelligence, PBS Programming and NOVA teams for providing data and context.
- In upcoming posts I’ll cover in detail the PBS audience and pipelines for: Science / NOVA; Non-NOVA Science; the History Strands, and The Vietnam War.
- Thanks also to John Morse, the veteran audience analyst who is my partner in providing our many producer clients with otherwise unaffordable deep ratings data and strategic analysis.
- We help producers understand the competitive landscape for U.S. channels so that they can better pitch new programs and negotiate renewals.
- Read more here about how to get a competitive advantage through our custom audience studies.
- Our sponsor for this series of posts is Archive Valley, the innovative online platform that gives documentary creators convenient access to fresh archive footage sources and to top archive researchers worldwide.
- Read about Archive Valley’s online solutions here.