When PBS unveiled its fall slate of primetime programs during its recent conference in Miami Beach, Fla., in May, many of the featured titles were notably missing one thing: presenting or producing stations that typically help shepherd series through the PBS editorial process.
As public television’s chief program exec and top producers unveiled highlights of the fall 2013 primetime schedule at the PBS Annual Meeting May 13–16 in Miami Beach, Fla., the network also signaled its willingness to invest in genres with track records of building viewership and differentiating public TV from its cable competitors. PBS paired with BBC Worldwide to acquire Last Tango in Halifax, a hit contemporary British drama starring Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid as childhood sweethearts who reunite after 60 years apart. Call the Midwife, a drama that PBS chief programmer Beth Hoppe bought to boost Sunday-night viewership in fall 2012, will return for a third season in 2014. PBS’s strategy to build affinities between programs scheduled together during primetime, initiated last year, appears to be paying off. As network and member-station programmers in Miami celebrated their recent ratings successes, they also looked ahead at plans to build on them.