PBS inks deals for on-demand access to local station content

By Ben Mook

PBS inked a deal with Xbox and Roku that will see the addition of an app that will provide local station content to users.

PBS inked a deal with Xbox and Roku that will see the addition of an app that will provide local station content to users.

PBS unveiled deals to distribute public TV programs on two additional on-demand video streaming platforms — Roku and Xbox Live.

The contracts, unveiled last week by PBS Digital chief Jason Seiken, lay the groundwork for apps that will feature local station programming and a limited selection of national content. To gain access, Xbox and Roku users will provide email addresses and choose their local station. The graphic interface on both services will be cobranded with PBS and local station logos.

“Xbox and Roku are leaders in the fast-growing ‘over-the-top’ television phenomenon, in which viewers access television programs on-demand on their TV sets using an Internet connection,” Seiken wrote in Jan. 4 email to station managers. “Research shows that 40 percent of U.S. television households have a TV that is connected to the Internet. PBS viewers are even further along the curve, with more than half of PBS viewers having at least one Internet-connected TV.”

Both deals will draw from the local station videos that also appear in COVE, PBS’s local-national video platform. The selection of national programs will be offered for a shorter window of time than on COVE.

The Roku app is expected to launch in February or March, and Xbox will release its app by May.

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