In a break with long-standing tradition, PBS is going to start putting those sponsor announcements as briefer breaks within the shows themselves, instead of long stretches at the beginning and end, NYT reports. While the programming and mission remains non-commercial, the format is going to make the messages look more like, well, commercials.
The move reflects a harsh reality. When there is a program that runs over an hour, the messages at the end can sometimes go eight minutes long. Most of the viewers then leave, making it near impossible to build an audience for a subsequent show off the back of the previous one.
Instead there will be “hot switches” where the end of one program will cut right to the next program.
The question is whether rearranging non-commercial underwriting into a format that looks more like commercial television will also cause corporate donors and viewers to flee. We’ll find out soon enough, as the we’ll start seeing the changes this fall during Wednesday showings of “Nature” and “Nova.” Based on what they see there, PBS will roll out the new format on a night by night basis throughout the year.