A new TV series and unprecedented digital & community engagement initiative culminates in a national vote for “America’s Best-Loved Book”

Designed to spark a national conversation about reading, literacy and the books that have inspired, moved and shaped us, THE GREAT AMERICAN READ is an eight-part PBS series that encompasses a wide range of digital and social media initiatives and significant community outreach activities. Featuring testimonials from notable figures from the entertainment, sports, news and literary worlds, the series culminates in the first-ever national vote to choose “America’s Best-Loved Book.”  The project will explore how writers create their imaginary worlds, how we as readers are deeply affected by these stories, and what 100 very different books –sourced from the American public and curated by literary professionals —  have to say about our diverse nation, the making of a modern culture, and our shared human experience.

THE GREAT AMERICAN READ will be hosted by Meredith Vieira and will feature Gabrielle Union, Jason Reynolds, George R.R. Martin, Wynton Marsalis, Morgan Freeman, Junot Díaz, Margaret Atwood and many more as America goes in search of its best-loved book.

The Television Series

  • A two-hour Launch Event airs May 22. Throughout this lively, hosted, two-hour documentary-style episode we’ll reach out across the country to uncover illuminating details about the 100 books, their authors and the people who read and love them. At the heart of the entire series are interviews with celebrities, public figures, experts, and notable and everyday Americans who reveal their personal relationships with their favorite novels on the list. The Launch episode will inspire viewers to read and participate in the nationwide TGAR campaign, and encourage them to follow up online for more about the 100 titles. It will also give a taste of the stories and themes to be explored in the summer documentary episodes, and it will encourage everyone to VOTE for their favorite books.
  • One-hour Relaunch Episode airs Sept 11. Re-energizing the campaign after the summer of reading and voting, this fast paced one-hour cut-down of the May Launch episode will revisit titles with an editorial focus similar to the Launch episode: to learn how and why these 100 books matter to us. How do they affect, connect and reflect us as Americans.
  • Five one-hour documentary episodes beginning Sept 18. These five entertaining and thought-provoking one-hour documentaries are designed to take a deeper dive into a range of books on our list which, while different in some ways, are connected by a common theme –Who Am I?, What We Do for Love, Heroes, Villains & Monsters and Other Worlds. These episodes not only deliver fascinating information, they also ask big questions about why these books matter, why are we drawn to these themes and what do they tell us about ourselves. We’ll also explore how authors approach their craft as they create the characters and story lines reflected in these themes. And they compel us to see these stories in a new and personal way.
  • One-hour finale airs Oct 23. As the voting draws to a close, this exciting live or as-live episode includes a countdown of America’s top ten favorites, as we build to the announcement of the country’s choice for Best-Loved Book. Along the way, we reveal surprising and thought-provoking discoveries about our entire summer of reading. We highlight the thrilling achievements of individual readers, community leaders and outreach programs across the USA, as we celebrate the impact of this landmark national public service initiative by PBS.

The Digital/Social Campaign

As part of THE GREAT AMERICAN READ, PBS will execute on a unprecedented digital and social media campaign that will complement the television series while providing younger and traditional PBS audiences with access to our content and to actively engage in content generation, building a multi-generational dialogue about literacy in America.

  • Voting Platforms: PBS has engaged Telescope known for its voting platforms around programs such as American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, The Voice, etc. Telescope will develop a platform specifically for THE GREAT AMERICAN READ that incorporates traditional phone voting along with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.
  • Social Media: Our social team is working with Everybody at Once to identify and create social media assets that will build awareness prior to the series and continue to engage the audience throughout the campaign, allowing us to provide PBS stations with local and regional content they can utilize to engage their local communities.
  • Web: Our team is working closely with Postlight to design and build THE GREAT AMERICAN READ website experience, that will continue to serve as a legacy component to the campaign after the series airs.

The Sponsorship Opportunity

With your sponsorship, you can reach a large, educated, affluent audience on-air during broadcast and digitally on VOD streams on PBS.org and OTT services. Your sponsorship also includes a digital presence across the project’s interactive voting and social channels, as well as the program page on PBS.org, delivering:

  • Broad reach and engagement across platforms – broadcast and digital. Over the course of a year, 82% of all US TV households – and 200 million people – watch PBS (Nielsen NPower, 9/21/2015-9/18/2016). Each month, Americans watch nearly 360 million videos across all of PBS’ web, mobile and connected device platforms (Google Analytics, 1/2016-12/2016). PBS social channels are followed by millions.
  • A highly-desirable, unmatched audience – educated consumers who love to read, watch PBS with their full attention, actively engage with PBS on social platforms, and are predisposed to support PBS sponsors
  • An uncluttered media environment where your message stands out

Contact us to learn more!

Note: As of January 2018, this show is currently filming, and the people featured in the video preview reel above are not necessarily in the final program.