TV Service Positioning Itself as an ‘Honors System’ Version of HBO

Jan 3, 2012  •  Post A Comment

A familiar television service is mapping out a new strategy, built in part on the recent success of one of its shows, The New York Times reports.

With the success of the British period drama "Downton Abbey," PBS is hoping to get viewers to think of the network as a premium channel akin to HBO and Showtime, the report says.

The goal is to convince viewers that the public television network is worth paying for, a sort of "premium television on the honors system,” said John Wilson, chief television programming executive at PBS, according to the piece.

PBS is hoping that ‘Downton Abbey” and other shows, such as "Sherlock," will convince wealthier viewers to donate, which in turn will help pay for shows such as "Sesame Street," the piece adds.

To reach a wider audience, PBS is taking on an ambitious advertising campaign for "Downton Abbey" with ads on CNN, BBC America and Lifetime, as well as in publications including People, the story says. Actors from the show are sending sponsored messages on Twitter, the piece adds.

The second-season debut of "Downton Abbey" drew a roughly 35% share in Britain when it aired in September. The second season will debut in the U.S. on Sunday.

One Comment

  1. This is another sign of desperation from PBS. The free ride is over and they need to embrace advertising. THey also need to enter the tech age. They need to do a better job of getting their shows available on all of the internet sites like Amazon, Netflix, etc. If you want to see season one of Downton before season 2 begins, the only place you can find it is on Microsoft’s ZUNE and you need an Xbox to watch it!!

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