Last week I shared my survey of the PBS audience in the Netflix Era.
Many readers commented on my Takeaway that PBS is defying its recent reputation as ‘old school’ and ‘yesterday.’
- PBS is gaining stature against the Wild West of online viewing because it is a brand that is highly trusted for its curated content.
- PBS compares favorably to Netflix because it also provides an uninterrupted programming experience .
This week’s snapshot covers the ratings and trends for 11 PBS strands across multiple genres from Drama to independent documentaries.
The Big Picture Chart:
- Science: NOVA.
- History: American Experience, American Masters and the ‘ancestry-unraveler’ Finding Your Roots.
- Drama: Masterpiece, until 2015-16 home of the mega-hit Downton Abbey
- Lifestyle: Antiques Roadshow, and Great British Baking Show which bucks the trend by growing year-to-year.
- Wildlife: Nature
- Current Affairs: Frontline
- And the ‘Indie Documentary’ slots Independent Lens & POV.
Volume of PBS Originals / Year
(The estimate includes the strands and PBS National commissions)
- History: 70+ hours
- Science: 40-50 hours
- Natural History: 30-40
- Total: 140-160
- 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 1.32 is down from 1.41 when I last looked in 2017.
- Discovery’s average primetime rating for 1Q 2019 was 1.07.
- Animal Planet’s was .46.
- Compare PBS’s 1.32 with the average primetime ratings for 40 Cab/Sat channels in 1Q 2019.
I find it helpful to view PBS’s primetime programs as originating from 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 provides limited series and specials.
- 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 for providing data and context.
- In upcoming posts I’ll cover in detail the PBS audience and recent hits for: Science / NOVA and the History Strands.
- 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.