Free PBS live stream in the works, distributor said

A free linear stream offering Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) programs is in development and could be rolled out to users soon, according to comments made by an executive on Monday.

In comments made at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Monday, Ira Rubenstein, the chief digital officer for PBS, said the non-profit program syndicate had seen a considerable amount of success with PBS Passport, an on-demand application that allows supporters of local PBS member stations to access a large library of shows and other content.

Missing from the application is a way for streamers to access local PBS programming through Passport, Rubenstein said. More than 100 local member stations launched on over-the-top service YouTube TV last month, but a handful of member stations still have yet to make a linear feed available to streamers.

PBS is now developing a linear feed that will be available through the PBS Passport at some point in the future, Rubenstein said. The service is expected to be available free of charge to PBS Passport’s 2.27 million active users. It wasn’t immediately clear if the feed would be that of a viewer’s local station or the PBS Satellite Service, the syndicate’s national feed.

Rubenstein did not offer a timetable for when the live feed would roll out. His comments were first reported by the blog Streaming Advisor.

In addition to PBS Passport and the live local feeds on YouTube TV, PBS distributes content for a monthly subscription through Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV Plus. It also sells DVDs and video on demand versions of its various programs.