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Why Is PBS Not on DIRECTV NOW, PlayStation Vue, & Other Live TV Streaming Services? You Asked, We Answer


One of the most popular questions we get is why PBS is not on a live TV streaming service such as DIRECTV NOW, Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, and Hulu. Cord Cutters News reached out to PBS to find out why and this is what we found out:

Many local PBS stations broadcast content that is not distributed by PBS and do not have live linear streaming rights.  Therefore they can not participate in these new “skinny bundle” services.  PBS is working to help local stations implement technical solutions as well as obtain rights to all content to participate on these exciting new platforms.” Said Aparna Kumar Senior Director, Corporate Communications at PBS.

Now I can already hear many say that “PBS is taxpayer funded so they should be free on everything.”

The truth is a very small fraction of PBS is taxpayer funded. According to Investors.com only 15% of PBS’s budget comes from federal taxpayers. According to the Washington Post if federal support was cut off PBS would likely continue.

The other 85% of PBS’s budget comes from distribution deals from cable companies, private donations, and licensed product sales (i.e., DVDs, toys, etc.). There are likely smaller income sources but those are the main sources we find in stories like the one from Investors.com.

So PBS is really not a publicly funded service in the same way the BBC in the UK is. PBS is much more like NBC or FOX than it is like the BBC.

It is also important to remember that local PBS stations are often owned by Universities. Their goals are often different from that of a traditional cable network.

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