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 and treating audiences as citizens, not simply consumers. For 15 consecutive years, a national study has rated PBS as the most-trusted institution in America.

PBS is a private, nonprofit corporation, founded in 1969, whose members are America’s public TV stations -- noncommercial, educational licensees that operate nearly 350 PBS member stations and serve all 50 states, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa. Of the 155 licensees, 82 are community organizations, 51 are colleges/universities, 18 are state authorities and four are local educational or municipal authorities. 

Strong Reach Across America


Public television is a near-universal media service, available in 9-of-10 U.S. television households. For many Americans, public television is their connection to the world. It may be their only opportunity to see a Broadway show, visit a National Park, or access non-commercial public affairs programming.

  • Over the course of a year, 80% of all U.S. television households - nearly 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, 9/19/2016-9/24/2017)
  • Each month, over 90 million people watch their local PBS stations. (Nielsen NPower, 10/2016-9/2017)
  • PBS averaged a 1.41 primetime household rating during the 2016-17 season, ranking it the #6 broadcast and cable network. (Nielsen NPower, 9/19/2016-9/24/2017)
  • PBS' primetime household audience is significantly larger than many commercial channels, including A&E (the PBS audience is 135% larger), Bravo (126%), TLC (122%), Discovery Channel (70%) and HGTV (39%). (Nielsen NPower, 9/19/2016-9/24/2017)
  • 64% of all kids age two to eight - 18 million children - watched PBS during the 2016-17 season. (Nielsen NPower, 9/19/2016-9/24/2017, All PBS Stations, L+7 M-Su 6A-6A TP reach, 50% unif., 6+min.)
  • PBS stations reach more moms with young children, and more Hispanic moms with young children,  than any other kids TV network. (Nielsen NPower, 9/19/16-9/24/17, L+7 M-Su 6A-6A TP reach, 50% unif., 6+min., LOH18-49w/C<6, Hispanic Origin. All PBS Stations, DSNY, NICK,  DSNYJr, NICKJr., SPRT, TOON & DISCFam)
  • PBS stations reach more children 2-8 in low-income homes, and more moms of young children in low-income homes, than any other kids TV network. (Nielsen NPower, 9/19/16-9/24/17, L+7 M-Su 6A-6A TP reach, 50% unif., 6+min., LOH18-49w/C<6, HH w/Inc<$25K. All PBS Stations, DSNY, NICK,  DSNYJr, NICKJr., SPRT, TOON & DISCFam)
  • PBS and stations provide the only free national 24/7 children’s TV channel and livestream, featuring more than 20 shows proven to improve kids’ learning. The service is available to more than 95% of U.S. TV households, reaching many children who may not attend preschool.
  • PBS and member stations are helping to keep the arts alive today and for generations to come. During the 2016-17 season, PBS offered nearly 600 hours of arts and cultural programming, seen by close to 110 million people. (Nielsen NPOWER, 9/19/2016-9/24/2017)
  • During the 2016-17 season, PBS offered 140 original hours of science and nature programming, seen by over 64 million people, getting viewers up close and personal with the world around them. (Nielsen NPOWER, 9/19/2016-9/24/2017)

Digital Platforms

PBS and stations have adopted new platforms and new technologies to bring the power of public media to all Americans, whenever, wherever, and however they consume content.

  • Each month, Americans watch an average of  264 million videos across all of PBS' web, mobile and connected device platforms. (Google Analytics, 1/2017-12/2017)
  • On average, PBS has nearly 26 million unique visitors to its sites each month - an average of 15.3 million to pbs.org and 7.3 million to pbskids.org. (Google Analytics, 1/2017-12/2017)
  • Throughout 2017, more minutes were spent viewing video on pbskids.org than on any other site in the kids category. On average, pbskids.org accounted for 31% of all time spent watching kids video online. (Google Analytics, 1/2017-12/2017)
  • In total, PBS' general audience and kids mobile apps have been downloaded 58 million times. (AppFigures)
  • PBS KIDS mobile apps deliver 160 million streams per month. (Google Analytics, January – December 2017)
  • PBS Digital Studios produces original content exclusively for digital platforms. In 2017, PBS Digital Studios averaged more than 38 million views per month on YouTube, a year-over-year increase of 27%. (YouTube Analytics, January-December 2017)

In the Classroom

PBS is committed to bringing the power of media into the classroom – helping educators to engage students in new and different ways.

  • PBS LearningMedia, a partnership of PBS and the WGBH Educational Foundation, is an online destination that offers free access to thousands of resources from PBS stations and partners.
    • PBS LearningMedia offers educators free access to thousands of resources - videos, images, interactives, lesson plans, articles, primary sources and more.
    • More than 1 million unique users visit PBS LearningMedia each month during the school year. (Google Analytics, 9/1/2017-6/30/2018)


Trusted Brand, Measurable Impact

Children's Media & Education

PBS is committed to helping all children reach their full potential, engaging the entire ecosystem in which they learn – including their parents, caregivers and educators.

  • A national study found that parents of children 18 and under consider PBS KDS the most educational media brand, compared with a range of other children's media providers. (Marketing & Research Resources, Inc. (M&RR), 1/2018)

  • In a 2016 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)

  • In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released new guidelines to help families balance media and everyday life, placing greater emphasis on the quality of the media with which kids interact, rather than the quantity, and pointing to PBS KIDS as a leading resource for educational programming. (October 2016)

  • A 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)

  • 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)

Public Perception

At a time when public trust in national institutions is eroding, confidence in PBS and local stations remains strong.

  • For the 15th consecutive year, a nationwide study confirmed that PBS and its member stations are rated #1 in public trust among nationally known institutions. (Marketing & Research Resources, Inc., (M&RR) 1/2018)
  • Nearly 8 in 10 people (78%) agree that PBS stations provide an excellent value to communities. In addition, 42% of respondents said it is “very important” for PBS to be available to every American, compared to those who said the same for commercial broadcast television (36%) and commercial cable television (21%). (Marketing & Research Resources, Inc., (M&RR) 1/2018)
  • 73% of voters oppose eliminating federal funding for public television, and GOP voters oppose it by almost a 2-1 margin (62%-32%). (American Viewpoint and Hart Research Associates, 1/2017)
  • 83% of voters say they would tell their elected representatives to find other places in the budget to save money if asked their opinion about eliminating federal funding for public television. (American Viewpoint and Hart Research Associates, 1/2017)
  • More than 8 in 10 voters have a great deal or fair amount of concern that ending federal funding for public television could eliminate local stations’ public safety communications services like AMBER Alerts and severe weather warnings. Similarly, 76% of voters express concern about public television having to significantly cut educational shows that help children prepare for success in school. (American Viewpoint and Hart Research Associates, 1/2017)


Icon America's Most Trusted Institution - view and download the brochure (4.4 MB)

View and download the PBS infographic

View and download the PBS KIDS infographic

August 2018