America's Largest Classroom, the Nation's Largest Stage
and a Trusted Window to the World

Every day, PBS and 350 member stations fulfill our essential mission to the American public, providing trusted programming that is uniquely different from commercial broadcasting, treating its audience as citizens, not simply consumers. In fact, PBS has been rated as the most trustworthy institution among nationally known organizations for 12 consecutive years.

PBS invites everyone to explore new ideas and broaden personal horizons -- with content that expands the minds of children, programs that ensure the worlds of music, theater, dance and art remain available to all Americans, documentaries that open up new worlds, and non-commercialized news programs that provide citizens with multiple perspectives on world events and cultures.

PBS is a private, nonprofit corporation, founded in 1969, whose members are America’s public TV stations -- noncommercial, educational licensees that operate 350 PBS member stations and serve all 50 states, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa. Of the 160 licensees, 85 are community organizations, 52 are colleges/universities, 19 are state authorities and four are local educational or municipal authorities. 

Strong On-Air Reach Across America

  • Over the course of a year, 82% of all U.S. television households - and 198 million people - watch PBS. The demographic breakdown of PBS' full-day audience reflects the overall U.S. population with respect to race/ethnicity, education and income. (Nielsen NPower, 9/22/2014-9/20/2015)
  • Each month, nearly 100 million people watch their local PBS stations. (Nielsen NPower, 10/2014-9/2015)
  • PBS averaged a 1.46 primetime household rating during the 2014-'15 season, ranking it the #5 broadcast and cable network. (Nielsen NPower, 9/22/2014-9/20/2015)
  • PBS' primetime household audience is significantly larger than many commercial channels, including Bravo (PBS' audience is 133% larger), A&E (120%), TLC (116%), HBO (79%), Discovery Channel (51%) and HGTV (48%). In addition, PBS' primetime rating for news and public affairs programming is 109% higher than CNN’s primetime audience. (Nielsen NPower, 9/22/2014-9/20/2015)
  • 71% of all kids age two to eight watched PBS during the 2014-'15 season. (Nielsen NPower, 9/22/2014-9/20/2015)
  • PBS stations reach more kids age 2-5, more moms with young children and more children from low-income families than any other kids TV network. (Nielsen NPOWER, 9/22/14-9/20/15, L+7 M-Su 6A-6A TP reach. K2-5, LOHw/C<6, K2-11w/Inc<$20K. PBS, DSNY, NICK, DSNYJr, NICKJr., SPRT, TOON & DISCFam)
  • At a time when most children’s networks are experiencing ratings declines, PBS stations are posting gains among key children’s targets. PBS weekday ratings are up 8% among kids 2-5 and up 7% among kids 2-8. (Nielsen  NPOWER, 9/22/14-9/20/15 vs. 9/23/13-9/21/14, L+7  M-F 7A-6P TP AA%. PBS, select kids cable nets.)

Helping to Close the Achievement Gap

  • A recent national study found that Americans consider PBS KIDS the most educational TV/media brand, significantly outscoring cable and television as a “trusted and safe place” for children to watch television, to visit on digital platforms and as a provider of apps for children on mobile devices. (CARAVAN ORC International, 1/2015)

  • In a 2014 survey, parents of children age two to six ranked PBS KIDS as the most trusted and relied upon media brand for school readiness, ranking PBS KIDS first in delivering on every measured skill – math, reading, social, emotional and more. (Smarty Pants, 2014)

  • A recent study showed that PBS KIDS resources can help close the math achievement gap for children from low-income families and better prepare them for Kindergarten. The study also showed an increase in parents’ engagement in their kids’ learning. Parents’ awareness of their children’s mathematics learning increased, as did their use of activities and strategies to support their children’s learning. Parents were also motivated to set aside time each day to do math activities with their children. (Engaging Families in Early Mathematics Learning:  A Study of a Preschool Family Engagement Model. WestEd, 2014)

  • PBS LearningMedia, a partnership of PBS and WGBH Educational Foundation, is a free media-on-demand service offering educators access to the best of public media and delivers research-based, classroom-ready digital learning experiences to engage students in exploring curriculum concepts that align with National and Common Core State Standards.

    • Teachers have access to more than 100,000 curriculum-aligned digital resources from over 205 trusted media partners.

    • Over 1.8 million educators and users have registered access to PBS LearningMedia.

    • An estimated 30 million students nationwide are impacted by PBS LearningMedia.

  • A 2015 study found that when PBS LearningMedia resources were integrated into existing curriculum:

    • Across subject areas, student performance on content assessments showed significant improvement, increasing by eight percentage points;

    • On average, students outperformed national assessment norms by 10 percentage points;

    • Teachers who participated in the study overwhelmingly stated that they would recommend the use of PBS LearningMedia resources to their colleagues. (PBS LearningMedia Impact Study, conducted by Education Development Center’s Center for Children and Technology)

Innovation and Growth on Digital Platforms 

  • Each month, Americans watch an average of 428 million videos across all of PBS' web, mobile and connected device platforms; 83% of these streams are delivered on a mobile platform. (Google Analytics, 1/2015-12/2015)
  • Combined, PBS had nearly 32 million unique visitors to its sites in November. (Google Analytics, 11/2015)
  • Streaming on pbskids.org accounts for 44% of all time spent watching kids videos online each month. (comScore Video Metrix, 1/2015-11/2015)
  • In total, PBS' general audience and kids mobile apps have been downloaded nearly 29 million times. (AppFigures)
  • 325 million streams were delivered on the PBS KIDS mobile video apps in December. (Google Analytics, 12/2015)

Highly Valued by the American Public

PBS annually commissions research to measure its performance and value as judged by its most important stakeholder — the American public. With local independent stations rooted in communities across the country, public media is unrivalled in its commitment to optimize the power and potential of media to strengthen our democracy, build stronger communities and improve lives.

Recent national studies confirm that PBS is (visit this link for source and full details):


  • #1 in public trust
  • An "excellent" use of tax dollars
  • The most fair network for news and public affairs
  • The #1 educational TV/media brand, for PBS KIDS
  • The safest on-air and online destination, for PBS KIDS


View and download the PBS infographic.

January 2016