|Launched||1 November 2011|
|Owned by||PBS UK LLC|
|Picture format||576i (16:9) (SDTV)|
|Audience share||0.07% (January 2018, BARB)|
|Slogan||"Where television matters"|
|Broadcast area||United Kingdom, Ireland|
|Formerly called||PBS UK|
|Timeshift service||PBS America +1|
Channel 93 (+1)
|11344 H 27500 5/6|
|Virgin Media||Channel 273|
PBS America is a British free-to-air television channel derived from the American public television broadcaster PBS. It is a joint venture between entrepreneur David Lyons and PBS Distribution, a joint venture of the broadcaster and the WGBH Educational Foundation which owns the international rights to the bulk of PBS's output.
PBS America 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. It is provided by pay-television operators as part of their channel packages and carries advertising. Unlike PBS in the United States it does not solicit donations from viewers.
PBS America was launched on 1 November 2011 (as PBS UK) on Sky and 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, formerly used by Blighty, as part of a deal with UKTV. The exchange came about as Blighty was to be replaced on satellite by Drama, UKTV were required to exchange one of their documentary category slots for one in the Entertainment grid. PBS America returned into the top 100 channels on Sky following the EPG reshuffle of 1 May 2018, in which channels previously located in the Documentaries category were integrated in with those of the Entertainment sector.
In the 4th quarter of 2019, a 24-hour +1 channel launched on Freeview only on channel 93 requiring a HD-capable receiver and being in the channel coverage area. PBS America increased its coverage to be nationwide but changed broadcasting hours to be 1pm-11pm after CBS Drama went full time.
The channel consists of content drawn exclusively from PBS member stations, both older and current for which it is able to secure the rights. It doesn't make its own programmes in the UK, but a few of them are British productions which have been shown on PBS in the United States before being recycled back to the UK by PBS America, e.g. What the Ancients Did for Us.
The PBS America line-up heavily features documentaries and history programs such as American Experience, Frontline and Nova as well as Ken Burns documentary films such as Prohibition. 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", along with commercial distribution contracts with other existing domestic children's networks.
Branding and marketing
The channel's slogan 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 programming strands for use on the channel, website and any off-air marketing.
On 4 July 2012, PBS UK was renamed PBS America.
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- "PBS Venture to Show 'Nova,' 'Frontline' in U.K. Broadcast Debut on Nov. 1". Bloomberg L.P. 4 October 2011.
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- "A round-up of opportunities in the UK digital television – April 2012". 19 April 2012.
- "A round-up of opportunities in the UK digital television market from Canis Media, July 2012". 16 July 2012.
- White, Peter (17 July 2013). "PBS America sells Sky slot to UKTV". Broadcast. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
- https://www.freeview.co.uk/news-and-blog/press-releases/pbs-america-launches-on-freeview.html. Missing or empty
- TVWise, 2018-07-04
- "PBS sets November launch date for UK channel". Rapid TV News. 12 August 2011.
- "PBS Plans a British Outlet". The 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.