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’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.
PBS stations need to share more information among themselves as they work to increase their community impact, PBS’s new senior v.p. of station services Juan Sepulveda said at the two-day “Understanding Impact” symposium, convened by the Public Media Futures Forum and the Center for Investigative Reporting April 17 and 18. The forum, which took place at American University, explored how public media organizations can measure and analyze the impact of their work. Sepulveda, who started at PBS in January, said he was still trying to get a sense of how actively stations are working on issues of impact and how much information they’re sharing. So far, he’s concluded that a small number of stations are “doing it right,” he said, adding that “if we’re honest, a big chunk of the system is not.”
Sepulveda saw firsthand the success of digital outreach and community-organizing tactics when he worked to mobilize Texans and Latinos for President Obama’s campaigns. Public TV can apply those strategies to get stations “more directly involved in what’s happening with each other,” he said.
Websites affiliated with PBS and NPR have been nominated for Webby Awards in more than 20 categories. PBS Video and NPR’s Responsive Design Project are contenders for top recognition for best practices on the Web, one of the most high-profile awards to be presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences later this spring. PBS led public media organizations in garnering the most nominations. PBS Video received a nomination in the general website media streaming category, and The PBS Idea Channel is vying for two Webbys in categories for first-person online film and video and best web personality/host. Additional nominees include PBS Kids Digital, in the youth category, and Shanks FX and PBS Food, nominated in categories of how-to and DIY content.
Startup Internet TV service Aereo has launched a website to make its case to the public in advance of a U.S. Supreme Court hearing next week. The court’s ruling after Tuesday’s arguments could make or break the service, which allows subscribers to view and record television broadcast programs online. Broadcasters, including PBS and New York’s WNET, have sued Aereo, claiming the company is violating copyright law by converting broadcast signals to streaming video. Launched Thursday, Aereo’s website, ProtectMyAntenna.org, lays out the company’s case for why it should prevail and provides links to all court filings to date. The case before the Supreme Court, American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., et al., v. Aereo, Inc., stems from a pair of lawsuits brought by noncommercial broadcasters and commercial networks including ABC, CBS and NBC.