If you grew up in the USA, or have fond memories of the children’s TV show Sesame Street, you probably know about the media firm Public Broadcasting Service, more affectionately call PBS. Publicly-funded & education-centric, the non-profit brand was established nearly 50 years ago & works with its member stations across the nation to supply programming that informs both young & old. PBS covers an assortment of topics as a media brand, covering genres which range from entertainment to education to science & tech. Overall, PBS describes itself & its partner stations as “America’s largest classroom, the nation’s biggest stage for the arts & a trusted window to the world.”
PBS has had to adapt from its origins in traditional TV to the ever-increasing digital media landscape. More audiences turn to mobile devices to watch video content, PBS has ensured it’s not missing out on the opportunity to get these viewers. In 2017 alone, the media organization pulled in 316.6 million all views on its titular social video accounts alone! It doesn’t even count the millions of views it’s generated on the accounts of its other owned & operated properties. Curious how PBS did it? Let’s take a deeper look at the media company’s social video plan.

PBS Has Found a Home on Facebook & YouTube

Tubular’s software, 26 distinct video accounts are imputed to PBS as a parent company. Channels & publishers incorporate the video platforms of a number of PBS’s 350 local partner stations across the USA, in addition to more specialized, top-level outlets such as NOVA & PBS Digital Studios. Nearly all views every month across these PBS accounts hail from FB & YouTube, with a dash of eyeballs from a few videos on Instagram and Twitter.
While each of these channels provides offers their own unique insights in their particular audiences & industries, let’s first concentrate the primary PBS account itself. Across the 4 societal platforms noted above, PBS boasts 6.8 million followers, with the most found on FB. Most of the publisher’s followers hail from the USA, with the largest U.S. customer at 95% following the PBS FB account. What are fans watching on these social platforms? They gravitate to the trailers, show recaps, teasers, and documentary-style pieces PBS uploads on a regular basis.
On Facebook, for example, the most-watched clip is a fascinating mini-documentary detailing the takeoff of the world’s biggest airplane. The video uploaded back in 2017, supplies a behind-the-scenes look at the aircraft’s pilots & how much coordination & engineering required to get the massive 500-ton “city in the sky” off the runway. The clip boasts 22.5 million viewpoints to date & is the #1 most-viewed piece not only on PBS’s Facebook account but over its social accounts of all time!
The publisher’s second most-watched clip of period can also be its most-watched ever on YouTube. That video is a preview trailer for the PBS show Nature, and series a montage of baby animals in the first days of life. In 2009, the video is has achieved 13.5 million total views. Let’s take a look at PBS’s third most-viewed video, which claims the honor of most-engaged clip across of the brand’s content on platforms.

These Are PBS’s Top 5 Video Channels

So we understand how PBS’s main channel operates & attracts views on a regular normal, but what about a few of its subsidiary properties? To answer the question, let’s take a look at the top 5 most-watched channels & publishers from last month. Here are which PBS properties pulled in the most views across FB, YouTube, and Instagram in March 2018:
1. PBS (22.6 million views)
2. Crash Course (21.4 million views)
3. PBS NewsHour (21.3 million views)
4. PBS Kids (18.5 million views)
5. Deep Look ᐧ PBS (5.5 million views)
The top honors go to the PBS property itself, which raked in a solid 22.6 million views. Nearly all of these at 18.3 million came from FB, followed by 4.2 million on YouTube & 106K on Instagram. The hottest video in March was ironically uploaded to the month’s last day; the trailer for PBS Masterpiece’s movie The Child in Time, starring the much-loved Benedict Cumberbatch, has just generated 185K views, with 56.3K of these appearing on its first day of going live!
Next up in March was Crash Course, the education-based station launched by the famous vloggers, brothers, and VidCon co-founders Hank and John Green. Almost of Crash Course’s 21.4 million perspectives came from YouTube, which is not surprising considering that’s the primary platform for the channel’s content.
The third and fourth most-watched PBS channels last month saw most of their views on YouTube. PBS NewsHour, which generates news broadcasts & analysis, pulled in 12.5 million of its whole 21.3 million viewpoints from YouTube alone. Similarly, PBS Kids watched an overwhelming majority of its viewership on YouTube that it generated 18.3 million of its total 18.5 million views in March…
PBS Boasts a Masterpiece Multiplatform Video Strategy
Now that we have looked at all this data and how it’s not restricted to one social account, we could clearly see PBS has mastered the art of a multiplatform social video strategy. The brand has figured out not what types of content audiences what to watch, but where they want to watch it. PBS is not afraid to cross-promote its other social accounts, nor is it worried about pushing digital viewers to linear to gain more viewership there, too.
Let’s take the PBS Kids channel, for instance. Roughly 21.6% of its audience is females aged 25 to 34, and it is fairly safe to assume they are millennial mothers showing content to their young children via the YouTube/YouTube Kids app. This same content wouldn’t work to attract views on FB, which has no dedicated, child-focused video section and tends to boast an older user base. But this is also likely why PBS worked with Watch to release Deep Look on that platform since the show boasts some episodes which talk about decidedly more mature themes like animal sex.