PBS is now the fifth most watched network, moved up over the years from 11th, surpassing ESPN, San Antonio native Juan Sepulveda and Senior Vice President of PBS told the SA to DC delegation on February 5. The popularity of new shows like Downton Abbey and the quality of others have raised the profile of the stations, that previously were considered programming for older viewers. He also noted that significant changes in how generations view television has dramatically changed how they think.
"Generations now watch TV differently, everything is on demand and online, on mobile devices," he said. "Now, we have places of honor in our homes for our video collections."
On the other hand, another way things are changing is how technology interacts with television programming. He told the attendees that things like SnapChat make video disposable, and people aren't holding on to video. And then you have YouTube, which is changing the landscape of how the public consumes TV, because today there is now something like 300 hours of video is added every minute to YouTube. This is up from 6-8 hours about 5 years ago, he said.
This is not just cats doing weird things, there are really good videos now going up on this media. Hollywood is putting up YouTube channels, and there is a lot of good content, he said. All of this changes how we need to creatively think about public programming.
"I talked recently with the CEO of Instagram and he told me that his competition is not other technology or apps, but television and news," Sepulveda said. "This is because they are competing for eyeball time, and the amount of time people spend doing anything."
Other important trends they are watching have to do with Amazon and Netflix, who are creating their own shows now, and we are seeing people 'binge watch' whole series. PBS experienced this and tried to see how it would work on one of their own productions with Ken Burns.
"We were shocked how many people watched the new Burns series on the Roosevelts on entire Saturday and Sunday programming," Sepulveda noted. "We are learning from all of these trends."
Local stations are doing a great job, he said. He complimented the new leadership at San Antonio's station, former Chamber Chairman Arthur Emerson. Our local station depends on the community to support their programs, he noted.
"We are a public entity, but get less than 10 percent of our budget from the federal government," he said and he encouraged the Chamber to continue to be supportive and providing opportunity to work together like producing the upcoming Mayoral debate.