PBS America is going free-to-air. The UK arm of the US public broadcaster will be made available on Freesat channel 160 as of Saturday October 31st, TVWise has learned.
Originally launched as a pay channel in 2011 under the name PBS UK (before changing their name to PBS America in 2012), the channel has a history of airing a wealth of critically acclaimed, high-end factual programming including noted PBS strands such as Nova, Frontline and American Experience. Since launch, the channel has moved to the documentaries section of Sky’s EPG and has doubled its viewing share. PBS America is also available on Virgin Media.
“Over the last four years we have built a high quality audience for well made American history, science and current affairs programmes”, said PBS America General Manager Richard Kingsbury. “We’ve always had a lot of interest from free to air viewers who enjoy quality docs and so it’s wonderful to be able to reach them at last. I’m confident that the Freesat launch will further accelerate the growth of PBS America.”
Notably, since the November 2011 launch PBS America has seen huge success with the numerous programmes that acclaimed director Ken Burns has created for their U.S. sister network, such as The Civil War, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History and Baseball. According to the channel, Ken Burns’ titles account for 80% of all PBS America’s UK DVD sales from a fledgling catalogue that now features over 100 Region 2 releases.
With that in mind, and to mark the Freesat launch, PBS America has unveiled a new Ken Burns Season which will see them air The Civil War (Re-Mastered 25th Anniversary Edition), Prohibition, The West, Jack Johnson: Unforgivable Blackness, Frank Lloyd Wright, Thomas Jefferson, Horatio’s Drive, Statue Of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge. This will be the first time that the aforementioned titles have been made available to the Freesat audience.
“At PBS, we have a long history of working together with people from around the world to tell new stories and illuminate horizons. But there’s no one that shares a more special relationship with PBS than the UK, and I’m so thrilled that PBS America will now be available to the British public free of charge” added PBS CEO Paula Kerger. “This is a testament to the hard work of Richard and his team, to share some of the best of American culture beyond our own borders. I strongly believe in the power of media to bring people together, across neighbourhoods and across oceans, and this is an important step forward for that mission.”