In July, PBS announced that they had reached a carriage deal with YouTube TV. This is the first deal with a Live TV Streaming Service for PBS, which has been one of the last major holdouts from live streaming.
We’ve now learned that PBS is targeting to go live with their first partner stations on November 4th. The deal will not see all member stations come on immediately, but new local member stations will become available on YouTube TV as they choose to participate. The channels will roll-out as they become available, with some possibly slipping to mid-December or early 2020.
The deal will see not only PBS, but also PBS Kids join the streaming service. The sub-channels that are available on some PBS affiliates like Create TV and World Channel, won’t be available at least initially.
Last year, PBS shared the holdup is that streaming services want a national feed, but Rubenstein said: “…that doesn’t work for us.” PBS was looking to be treated like a local network affiliate where member channels can also show their local content. By coming to a deal for all member stations, they can now freely choose whether they want to join the service.
Under the agreement with YouTube TV, stations will have different options to distribute their channel. The simplest option is to just provide local streaming of those shows cleared for live streaming. Alternatively, PBS will deliver local programming with a digitally inserted station ID. The final option would be a national feed, similar to what FOX provides to some streamers — which only includes national programming.
While this deal has come with its share of problems, it seems this is the prime opportunity for PBS to find room in the streaming arena. As more and more people are cord cutting, obsoletion becomes a real risk for the public television broadcaster.