|Launched||1 November 2011|
|Owned by||PBS UK LLC|
|Picture format||576i (16:9) (SDTV)|
|Audience share||~0.0% (November 2012, BARB)|
|Slogan||"Where television matters"|
|Broadcast area||United Kingdom, Ireland|
|Formerly called||PBS UK
(until 4 July 2012)
|Virgin Media||Channel 243|
|Virgin TV Anywhere||Watch live (UK only)|
PBS America is a British pay-TV version of the American non-profit television network PBS. It is a joint venture between entrepreneur David Lyons and PBS Distribution, which owns the international rights to the bulk of PBS's output. The UK branch of PBS operates much like BBC Worldwide, a profit-making enterprise managed separately from the main non-profit, publicly financed arm, that will ideally generate money for its parent.
PBS America launched on 1 November 2011 (as PBS UK) via satellite on Sky and via cable on Virgin Media. On 23 August 2011, PBS UK launched a placeholder channel called Rosa on Sky channel 231, however they were able to acquire the more prominent channel 166 EPG slot from Information TV for use from launch. On 28 October 2011, a barker channel for PBS UK was added to Virgin Media channel 243. The cable operator has also secured the rights to offer PBS content on its video on demand service, including the Virgin Media Player.
On 19 April 2012, the channel's Sky EPG slot was put up for sale, with seven figure offers anticipated by broker Canis Media. While PBS UK wasn't closing, they were considering moving from the Entertainment genre to Documentaries. On Virgin Media, the channel is already positioned in the equivalent Factual genre. On 16 July, Canis Media confirmed that PBS had received numerous offers for the slot but they had fallen below expectations. PBS decided to stay in the Entertainment genre, while remaining interested in moving genre and keeping the slot on the market.
On 24 July 2013, PBS America moved to the Documentaries section on Sky channel 534.
The channel consists of content drawn exclusively from PBS, both older and current for which it is able to secure the rights. The PBS America lineup heavily features documentaries and history programs such as American Experience, Frontline and Nova as well as Ken Burns documentary films such as Prohibition. PBS NewsHour also airs the day after it is broadcast in the US. In total PBS America aired 500 unique hours of content in 2011 and will air 1000 hours in 2012. Children's programming such as Sesame Street does not air on the channel because the market is "well served for kids' content".
Branding and marketing
The slogan for PBS America is "Where television matters". Channel 4's Channel 4 Sales division is the exclusive advertising sales representative for the network. The general manager of PBS UK said of the pick, "In the States, PBS is well-loved and trusted for its award-winning programming, so it was essential for us to select a company capable of delivering a high quality viewing experience throughout the ad-breaks as well. There's an obvious fit between our two brands and we're delighted to be represented by Channel 4."
Branding and design agency Dunning Penney Jones was appointed to create the channel's on-air look and feel. As well as repurposing the PBS branding used in the US, they created new idents specifically for the UK channel. The agency also designed four colour themes for each of PBS America's four key programming strands for use on the channel, website and any off-air marketing.
On 4 July 2012, PBS UK was rebranded as PBS America.
- "Television Broadcast Licensing Update July 2011". Ofcom. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
- "PBS UK launching in November". Realscreen. 11 August 2011.
- "PBS Venture to Show ‘Nova,’ ‘Frontline’ in U.K. Broadcast Debut on Nov. 1". Bloomberg L.P. 4 October 2011.
- "PBS sets UK launch date". C21Media. 11 August 2011.
- "PBS UK confirmed for Virgin Media launch next week". Digital Spy. 28 October 2011.
- "PBS on the hunt for media agency ahead of UK launch". Guerillascope. Retrieved 6 October 2011.
- "Interview: PBS boss Paula Kerger on launching a UK channel". The Guardian. 16 October 2011.
- "A round-up of opportunities in the UK digital television – April 2012". Canis Media. 19 April 2012.
- "Don't worry - ...". Twitter. 19 April 2012.
- "PBS is movin ...". Twitter. 19 April 2012.
- "A round-up of opportunities in the UK digital television market from Canis Media, July 2012". Canis Media. 16 July 2012.
- White, Peter (2013-07-17). "PBS America sells Sky slot to UKTV". Broadcast. Retrieved 2013-07-17.
- "PBS sets November launch date for UK channel". Rapid TV News. 12 August 2011.
- "PBS Plans a British Outlet". New York Times. 31 July 2011.
- "Channel 4 Sales to represent PBS UK". Channel 4. 17 October 2011.
- "PBS UK appoints Dunning Penney Jones for on-air branding". Campaign. 11 October 2011.