One day there may be a question on Jeopardy. A nationally recognized network of educational stations which was the first to offer free live streaming of al programming. The answer in the form of a question will be What is PBS? The significance of PBS’s entry into the live streaming world can not be overstated. PBS stations were actually earlier to streaming than most networks, especially locally owned stations. Most television stations, even those with network affiliation only stream free news broadcasts. Regular programming, whether it is national network programming or syndicated programming, is almost uniformly hidden behind the paywall in the form of TV Everywhere apps. Download the ABC app and click watch live and you will be asked to sign in to a TV provider.
PBS still requires users to pay if they would like to watch a number of on-demand programs within the app. This requires what PBS calls Passport. It is a $5.00 a month donation/charge. But if you want to kick back and watch Masterpiece, PBS News Hour or even local programming while it happens on TV it is now available via 85 channels and multiple streaming platforms.
The reason this is so important is that it is the first instance of it. It is important like the WWE breaking off from traditional PPV delivery and starting the WWE Network. By making streaming free PBS sets an example to other TV channels that are otherwise available over the air for free. It also sets expectations for the viewing public. The fact that viewers can watch ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox for free with an antenna but can not stream the same content without jumping through hoops has never made sense to us. It is free and publically available unless you live somewhere with challenges. The networks as a matter of public service should make their content available to viewers in their area. Not doing so risks losing viewers and advertising dollars. But nonetheless, streaming local TV channels has been typically built into national network apps. When streaming of major Networks becomes universally free one day cord-cutters may owe a big thank you to PBS.