During a March 10 appearance at the South by Southwest Interactive conference, PBS President Paula Kerger talked the talk of digital innovation, pointing to the network's recent successes with web-original videos, social media messaging and the unparalleled popularity of online content tied to PBS Kids.
Kind-Hearted Woman, David Sutherland's latest documentary series for Frontline is a five-hour story of abuse and triumph for a Native American woman. His meticulous techniques for gathering and mixing sound added six months to the post-production process, yet the filmmaker says they're a key part of his process of creating intimate documentary portraits.
The Nielsen Co., the stalwart television-ratings tracker, announced Feb. 20 that it plans to track viewing on additional devices beginning in September. The news was reported by the Hollywood Reporter. Among the media Nielsen will include are Xboxes and over-the-top devices that stream programming from services such as Amazon, according to the Reporter. In January, PBS signed a deal to bring some of its local and national programming to Xbox and over-the-top device Roku.
Palestinian documentary filmmaker Emad Burnat, whose Oscar-nominated film 5 Broken Cameras received funding from PBS's POV, was detained Feb. 20 at Los Angeles International Airport after arriving in the country for Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony. The news that Burnat had been held for one and a half hours was first tweeted by friend and fellow documentary filmmaker Michael Moore. Burnat later released a statement confirming that he and his family had been detained and threatened with deportation and that they had been forced to provide proof that he had been nominated for an Oscar. "Although this was an unpleasant experience, this is a daily occurrence for Palestinians, every single day, throughout the West Bank," Burnat said.
More than five months after subpoenaing notes and outtakes from The Central Park Five, a crime documentary about the 1989 arrest and conviction of five innocent young men over the rape and assault of a jogger in Central Park, lawyers for New York City were rebuffed in their attempts to gain hold of the film's unused footage for evidence in an ongoing federal lawsuit. The decision came on the evening of Feb. 19, as reported by the New York Times. Co-directed by Ken Burns, his daughter Sarah and longtime Burns producer David McMahon, based on extensive research from Sarah, the film was released in theaters in fall 2012 to critical acclaim and will air on PBS in April. The city had accused the filmmakers of biased reporting when it filed the Sept.
The third-season finale of Downton Abbey drew 8.2 million viewers for its Feb. 17 PBS broadcast, the network and WGBH announced Feb. 19. The numbers come from Nielsen and gave the episode a 5.2 household rating. The episode came in with 50 percent more viewers than the season two finale in 2012 and also drew 300,000 more fans than this year's season premiere.
Wendy Levy, the director of arts consultancy group New Arts AXIS, called for documentary filmmakers to embrace big data tools as a permanent part of their storytelling process during the keynote address at the Media That Matters Conference, held Feb. 15 in Washington, D.C.
Amazon announced today it has struck a deal with PBS to make its online video streaming service, Prime Instant Video, the exclusive subscription streaming outlet for Downton Abbey. Beginning June 18, Prime Instant Video will be the only subscription streaming service where viewers will be able to watch Season 3 of the smash Masterpiece Classic program. The first and second seasons of the show are currently available on Amazon as well as on rival subscription streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus, but will migrate exclusively to Prime on an unspecified date "later this year," according to a press release from Amazon. Prime will also be the only paid streaming service to offer Season 4 and, if produced, Season 5 of the series. Downton Abbey is already the most popular TV series among Amazon Prime customers, according to Brad Beale, Amazon director of digital video content acquisition.