PBS goes mobile with apps, Web strategies

PBS is not just about “Masterpiece Theater” and “Antique Roadshow” anymore. The public broadcaster has aggressively created a multipronged approach to disseminate its content across mobile platforms. In addition to launching its mobile optimized website, PBS is also unveiling apps for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. The mobile site integrates national and local station content on the site, which is automatically localized to provide relevant information for viewers. The iPad app provides calendar and scheduling info, promos and full-length videos; the iPhone and iPod touch apps are more focused on keeping viewers connected with their local station and provide previews of program highlights, video shorts and full episodes.

The overall goal is to transform the public broadcaster into a “multiplatform media company with content for TV, mobile, the Web and interactive whiteboards in classrooms,” according to the network.

The strategy appears to be working. In the first 24 hours, the iPad app was the No. 1 free app in iTunes. And, according to data from comScore, viewers streamed 89 million videos last month from its various portals; the average age of PBS.org viewers is 35; viewers are watching 22 minutes per video; and online sponsorship revenue is up 80 percent.

To attract a broad demographic, PBS apps offer a wide range of popular music concerts and original content for the website, including Nova’s “Secret Life of Scientists.” Another new series, “Circus,” launched its first full episode for iPad before it premiered on TV.

PBS has also paid attention to mobile apps for PBS Kids, with six iPad and iPhone apps, a subscription-based teaching tool, interactive whiteboard activities and nearly 1000 free educational games.