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PBS and YouTube TV Partnership Proves to Be Complicated, May Be Costly For Local Stations To Launch By November

Stephanie Sengwe

Back in July, PBS announced that they had reached a carriage deal with YouTube TV. The deal, which brings PBS to the streaming service in November, marked the first time an over-the-top livestreaming provider partnered with public television.

Last year, PBS shared that a holdup was due to the fact that they were looking to be treated like a local network affiliate where member channels can also show their local content, instead of a national feed. This deal with YouTube TV allows local member stations to choose whether or not they want to join the service.

While this deal gives local channels the option to join, it turns out smaller PBS stations might have to squeeze their budgets in order to be included. According to Current, larger television stations, with infrastructure already in place, won’t see additional costs — but those smaller stations will have to pay a streaming fee.

Under the agreement with YouTube TV, Current says 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.

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