PBS is apparently moving closer to launching dozens of local channels and a national variant on YouTube TV.
A Reddit user this week spotted official artwork for PBS series installed on YouTube TV, meaning a PBS-specific “channel” is available at least in the backend of the service.
PBS announced a deal with YouTube TV earlier this year, the first such arrangement to bring its programming to an over-the-top linear streaming TV service.
The PBS artwork appearing on YouTube TV is a positive development for a deal that has been setback by numerous issues, including some smaller member stations complaining of the financial burden associated with getting their channels on YouTube TV. PBS has reportedly told member stations they could lose PBS programming if they don’t figure out how to get their channels on YouTube TV, according to a source who spoke with The Desk in November.
Programming rights have also been an issue, with most member stations and national distributors having to negotiate separate digital rights for non-PBS shows carried on their channels. The situation has been particularly problematic for American Public Television, a PBS competitor, with the distributor saying they’ve spent thousands of dollars and man hours attempting to clear rights to programming.
Neither PBS or YouTube TV have committed to an official launch date. PBS is a distributor of programming; it does not have an official television network, though it has offered to provide YouTube TV with a version of its national satellite feed in markets where local member stations aren’t able to sign on to YouTube TV by the end of the year, according to people familiar with the distributor’s plans.
YouTube TV is operated by Google, which is owned by Alphabet, Inc.