PBS’s live-action Odd Squad aims to ‘make math relevant’ for kids

PBS Kids will expand the footprint of its math-focused programs with Odd Squad, a live-action TV series for school-aged children. The new show, which follows the fall 2013 debut of Peg + Cat, a preschool series presenting math concepts, will debut Nov. 26. Creators Tim McKeon and Adam Peltzman, who previously collaborated as television writers on another PBS Kids series for school-aged children, The Electric Company, are producing Odd Squad through Toronto-based Sinking Ship Entertainment and the Fred Rogers Company (which also produces Peg + Cat and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood for PBS). Odd Squad stars sleuths Olive and Otto, members of a detective agency who use math concepts to solve unusual mysteries around their town.

Masterpiece Trust secures $3 million gift from San Diego donor

SAN FRANCISCO – Amid previews of upcoming programming at the PBS Annual Meeting, including a groundbreaking 14-hour series on the Roosevelt family from Ken Burns, came extraordinary news of a record-setting donation for Masterpiece. Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton told attendees that the icon strand, through its Masterpiece Trust, will receive $3 million from longtime supporter Darlene Shiley on behalf of herself and her late husband Donald. Shiley’s local station, KPBS in San Diego, will share a portion of the contribution. The gift triples Shiley’s previously unprecedented $1 million donation in 2012. Since its inception in 2011, the trust has raised nearly $10 million for Masterpiece and local stations designated by donors.

PBS plans digital video service as premium for station members

Public television stations are hoping that special access to a rich library of PBS programs will convince viewers to become members and entice members to keep contributing. The multiplatform subscription program, with the working title MVOD (Membership Video on Demand), will be built atop COVE, PBS’s local-national video site. PBS is backing the initiative with $1.5 million in its fiscal 2015 budget. MVOD will feature past seasons of signature PBS general-audience series and provide stations with the ability to add locally produced series, said Ira Rubenstein, head of PBS Digital. “I think of it as Amazon Prime or Netflix, but only for station members,” he said.

PBS proposes video-on-demand service in FY15 budget

PBS’s fiscal year 2015 draft budget includes the launch of a Membership Video on Demand service that will generate revenue by drawing on the network’s expansive library of content. MVOD members will get exclusive access to on-demand PBS videos, according to a budget document acquired by Current. “This is a critical product to help stations drive membership of the growing digital audience,” it said. The service will be integrated with PBS’s COVE video platform, and the public broadcaster anticipates hiring additional staff for the project. The budget proposal, now awaiting comment from stations, also requests a 2.5 percent increase in assessments from stations.