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EXCLUSIVE: PBS To Push Promos on YouTube

By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 10/20/2006 4:05:00 PM

PBS is getting serious about getting more bang for it promotional buck--or make that no buck--via the Internet.

It has set up a "directors account" on YouTube--allowing for longer clips and some other perks--and begun showcasing promos, with a link to the PBS homepage and the show's site.

PBS President Paula Kerger has said from the get-go that the noncom service needed to be on the cutting edge of getting its programming to where the eyeballs are, and CPB President Patricia Harrison said just this week that programmers "can no longer broadcast to an audience where you last saw them."

The PBS clips--14 of them so far--include tune-in information, like "check your local listings."  Kevin Dando, director of education and online communication, for PBS, says it is helping to promote the shows to a huge audience--100 million views a day to all of YouTube. And you can't beat the price of the screen time: free.

"It's a great way to get in front of a broad variety of audiences," Dando says. He points out that the clip promoting a NOW program on "clean elections" is now among the top-50 most viewed recent video posts to the site with 13,600 views to date.

"It's where the market is headed," he says.

To increase the chances of getting noticed, PBS loads the clip with tags so that it will come up on a variety of searches--for the NOW show, the tags were "NOW," "PBS," "votes,""sale campaigns," "democracy," "clean elections," "election," "proposition 89," "vote voting."

Dando says the big hurdle now is lining up rights to the clips, but that PBS is having more conversations with producers pointing out to them that allowing the streamed video will drive viewers to their shows and surfers to their show sites.

He says the process so far has been pretty informal. "We would like to be putting more on YouTube," he says, "but often we don't have the rights." Any thought of making those rights part of production agreements for its shows? He says there have been some conversations internally.

PBS is also posting promos on Google Video and IFILM.

The social networking strategy seems to be working. On Friday, the head of the California Nurses Association and a backer of the "clean elections" ballot initiative, Proposition 89, was sending out an e-mail linking to the NOW clip and encouraging people to watch the special.

The move could also drive eyeballs to the ads PBS is now running on some of its Web sites.

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