PBS & Twitch Host Mister Rogers Marathon to Engage New Audiences, Pilot Integrated Fundraising Campaign

From May 15th to June 3rd, Twitch showcased all 886 episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The special “marathon” event was available to all audiences and featured an integrated, localized fundraising campaign. It generated more than seven million views and raised $42,145 for member stations over an 18-day period.

PBS partnered with Twitch to engage a new audience and encourage financial support of viewers’ local PBS stations through a new platform. Twitch has a highly engaged audience and successfully ran marathons with PBS content that featured Bob Ross and Julia Child. Both marathons demonstrated strong engagement, laying the groundwork for a May/June Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood marathon—our first fundraising campaign with Twitch.

 The pilot sought to gather learning and feedback, and to explore the possibility of additional local fundraising opportunities on Twitch and other platforms using PBS content that resonates with younger audiences. Twitch adapted the user interface around the Mister Rogers channel to encourage donations by displaying a real-time tracker.

Twitch managed the donation flow, utilizing a third-party processor and a donor-advised fund to distribute the funds directly to local stations. The goal was to create a standardized and seamless donation flow to maintain the expected Twitch user experience. All of the campaign donations from viewers within the United States went to local PBS stations.

The partnership with Twitch was successful at paving the way for future collaborations and benchmarking the benefits and challenges of similar national partnerships. The timing of the marathon was also well received and the earned media generated at the launch was greater than expected. 

One of the challenges was to create and maintain a sense of fundraising urgency, one that typically drives the number of donations to a crest by the end date. A greater emphasis on deadlines and rewards such as t-shirts, stickers, badges etc. could have also added an additional level of gamification that could drive donations. Some of these capabilities exist on the Twitch platform and can be better leveraged for future campaigns when we have longer lead-time to implement these tactics to optimize the fundraising campaign.

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Questions? Contact Chas Offutt, PBS Development Services, Digital

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