great site to find its line-up of podcasts, but until now, PBS only featured videos from its TV shows on their respective homepages. Now, however, viewers will be able to turn to just one site, PBS Video, to find all of their favorite public television shows like 'Nova' or 'Antiques Roadshow.' Even though PBS is a non-profit organization, it faces some of the same challenges as its commercial brethren like Hulu or YouTube, as local stations don't want to lose viewers to the net, and as production companies don't want to give up control over their content.NPR has a
As Saul Hansell points out in the New York Times, PBS typically only pays for less than a third of the production costs for a show, which means that independent producers or foreign networks like the BBC keep a controlling interest in a show. These producers tend to be highly protective of their productions, and DVD sales, which means that some shows on PBS Video will only be available for a week after the show aired while other shows won't be featured on the site at all. In contrast, PBS will offer a large back catalog of shows that it has more control over like 'Frontline' or 'Nova.'
In total, the new portal will feature about 130 episodes from 20 shows, and PBS promises to add more shows and episodes over the next few weeks. PBS also plans to make PBS Video the clearinghouse for shows from local affiliates.
In some ways, the interface resembles ABC's streaming video player, with a substantial dose of Hulu thrown in for good measure. PBS does not allow users to embed any of its shows on other sites, which is quite a shame. This is probably a compromise PBS had to make in order to be allowed to put these shows up on the Internet in the first place.
Sadly, the user interface isn't always very user intuitive. Every show, for example, is presented as a deck of cards, which looks cool, but which would be almost impossible to work with if it wasn't for a standard, text-based table of shows at the bottom of the page. Most shows open with standard pre-roll ads from PBS sponsors. The site also features links to these sponsors, as well as links to local PBS stations, where viewers can make donations.