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Report: PBS coming to YouTube TV in November, local stations worried about cost

Last month, Google announced that PBS and PBS Kids is coming to YouTube TV. A new report pegs a November launch of those two channels, and also goes into detail about the streaming costs for local PBS stations.

According to Current (via Cord Cutters News), PBS and PBS Kids is targeting a November launch for its first “virtual multichannel video programming distributor” deal. YouTube TV last month only provided a “later this year” timeline.

The report goes into detail about the behind-the-scenes technical work needed to make this happen, and the associated costs that will impact small stations. In many places, YouTube TV supports local affiliate stations for the big four broadcast networks.

This concept also applies to PBS stations where local channels often have unique content that’s limited to an area. To make this type of programming available in YouTube TV, local stations — not located in big markets — are responsible for streaming that live feed. Some of those stations are eligible for a reduced $250 monthly rate, while others have to pay the full $1,500 cost.

The fee is cost prohibitive for public broadcasting, and PBS did try to negotiate the reduced rate for all stations outside of top markets. There is a free alternative that involves local stations just using a a national PBS feed, but many want to have local content available when viewers tune in via YouTube TV.

A system is in place where local stations can first send their signal to PBS, with the latter party then responsible for sending to YouTube TV. PBS is working to expand this free interconnect in the coming years.

The full Current report also details the effort to secure rights when livestreaming content. YouTube TV will occasionally display a “blackout” message, though availability will improve over time.

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: