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PBS Launches Online Video Channel

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NEW YORK PBS has bolstered its online video strategy with the launch today of a video-only channel that aggregates thousands of full-length episodes from the network’s top series. The venue also offers complete seasons of current shows and a full back catalog of classic shows.

Among the series available on PBS.org/video are American Masters, Antiques Road Show, Masterpiece Theater, Nature and Nova. Classic series, such as programs featuring cooking legend Julia Child, will also eventually be available in their entirety on the site.

Plus, PBS plans to create programming packages featuring compilations of episodes from various shows that touch upon common themes, starting with this week’s environment-centric package, launched to coincide with Earth Day. That collection includes snippets from Frontline, Nova and Nature, along with Jean Michel Cousteau Ocean Adventures.

PBS is also planning to eventually roll out original Web series, according to Jason Seiken, svp of interactive operations for the broadcaster. But initially the new portal’s focus will be on showcasing the depths of PBS’ library in one easy-to-use Web outlet that offers state-of-the-art navigation and search. While some PBS series had been previously available online, prior to this launch they were scattered. “You couldn’t go to any one place and find a uniform video offering,” he said. “It just wasn’t that user-friendly.”

Seiken added that the new portal should benefit the 150-plus local participating PBS stations. Those stations will be given the opportunity to integrate the portal on their own Web sites -- with their own branding and local programming. Plus, some local shows will have the chance to bubble up on the new portal and potentially reach a broader audience.

Initially, the full-length online episodes of PBS shows will carry the same advertisers and same “Brought to you by” approach as the series do on TV. Eventually the online episodes will carry more traditional pre-roll ads and banners.

Even so, Seiken promises that PBS isn’t about to become overtly commercial by testing running more ads online. “Our goals are to better serve our audience, better serve stations and generate additional revenue,” he said. “Without that, it is very difficult to have a robust video offering. But there won’t be a pre-roll on every video. It will be restrained. It will be in keeping with the PBS mission.”

Source: Mediaweek.com