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

Every day, PBS and nearly 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 14 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 349 PBS member stations and serve all 50 states, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa. Of the 158 licensees, 83 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 200 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, 9/21/2015-9/18/2016)
  • Each month, over 95 million people watch their local PBS stations. (Nielsen NPower, 10/2015-9/2016)
  • PBS averaged a 1.43 primetime household rating during the 2015-'16 season, ranking it the #6 broadcast and cable network. (Nielsen NPower, 9/21/2015-9/18/2016)
  • PBS' primetime household audience is significantly larger than many commercial channels, including A&E (PBS' audience is 156% larger), TLC (138%), Bravo (123%), Discovery Channel (53%) and HGTV (36%). (Nielsen NPower, 9/21/2015-9/18/2016)
  • 68% of all kids age two to eight watched PBS during the 2015-'16 season. (Nielsen NPower, 9/21/2015-9/18/2016)
  • PBS stations reach more kids age two to five, more moms with young children and more children from low-income families than any other kids TV network. (Nielsen NPower, 9/21/15-9/18/16, 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)
  • A national study of parents with children ages 2-6 found TV viewing is one of the top ways that families spend time together, with 89% of parents reporting they watch TV together as a family, 74% in favor of anytime access to educational programming and 37% ranking PBS KIDS as the best use of family screen time. (Maru/Matchbox, 2016)

Helping to Close the Achievement Gap

  • A recent national study found that Americans consider PBS KIDS the most educational media brand compared to a range of other television networks. In addition, PBS KIDS outperformed Disney, Disney Jr., Nickelodeon and Nick Jr., in direct comparisons regarding a range of key areas, helping prepare children for success in school, including modeling positive social and emotional behaviors for children, innovation and more. (Survey Sampling International (SSI), January 2016)

  • In a recent survey, PBS KIDS ranked first in school readiness among children’s TV networks. When asked how well networks prepare children for school, 81% of parents said PBS KIDS helps a lot/somewhat, topping the next closest network by 11%. Parents also credited PBS KIDS for more positive behavior exhibited by children after watching. PBS KIDS stands out as the most trusted and safe place for children to watch television and the best use of families’ screen time, according to the study. (Maru/Matchbox, 2016)

  • 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 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 around standards-aligned curriculum concepts.

    • 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.

  • 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 nearly 360 million videos across all of PBS' web, mobile and connected device platforms. (Google Analytics, 1/2016-11/2016)
  • Combined, PBS has 31.3 million unique visitors to its sites in November. (Google Analytics, 11/2016)
  • In November, streaming on pbskids.org accounted for nearly one quarter (24%) of all time spent watching kids videos online. (comScore Video Metrix, 11/2016)
  • In total, PBS' general audience and kids mobile apps have been downloaded over 42 million times. (AppFigures)

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.

A recent national survey (visit this link for source and full details) confirms that PBS and its member stations are rated #1 in public trust among nationally known institutions. In addition, the same survey found that parents rank PBS KIDS as the #1 educational media brand for children, significantly outscoring cable and commercial broadcast television networks.


View and download the PBS infographic.

View and download the PBS KIDS infographic.

February 2017