Q&A: ‘Building on strengths’ key to PBS strategy

After stints in the cable world as producers and programmers, PBS execs Beth Hoppe and Donald Thoms returned to PBS last August to assist Chief TV Programming Executive John Wilson with primetime scheduling. They’ve also been working closely with producers to craft shows that will help build more audience flow across weeknights. With Hoppe’s expertise in science and nature production, and Thoms’ love of the arts and independent films, the pair brings passion for the programs that cover the breadth of PBS’s variety service, they said during a May 3 interview with Current. Here, the three programmers discuss their progress over the past year and their plans for the coming summer and fall seasons, including:

How strategies for presenting arts programs have evolved since last fall’s nine-week festival;
How granular Nielsen ratings numbers help them make decisions about commissioning, scheduling and promoting primetime programs; and
Why PBS stepped back from its proposal last year to insert promotional breaks into programming. This transcript has been edited.