PBS America launches catch-up service on Freeview Play

Mike Wheatley

PBS America is launching its first catch-up TV service on the U.K.’s popular free TV service Freeview Play. It’s an exclusive deal that means Freeview Play will be the only place where viewers can watch on-demand content from the U.S. broadcaster.


Somewhat confusingly, PBS America is in fact a British free-to-air television channel derived from the American public television broadcaster PBS. The channel is best known for its history content and generally takes a bottom-up approach in its delivery, telling stories with a focus on human experiences during the frontiers of exploration, war and other great cultural moments.

It’s known to showcase the best of America’s Public Broadcasting Service, with a rich factual schedule including landmark history series by Ken Burns, including Vietnam War, Jazz and The Civil War, as well as FRONTLINE’s in-depth current affairs investigations and NOVA’s science documentaries, among others. In addition, PBS America is the home of popular on-demand box sets that depict the history of Country Music.

All of this content, and more, will now be viewable on-demand on all FreeviewPlay devices. The channel will be accessible via the Explore Freeview Play interface on Channel 100.

Freeview Play offers a connected TV service that’s now watched in more than 17 million homes across the U.K. It combines both live and on-demand content from services such as the BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5, UKTV Play, CBS Catchup Channels UK, Legend, STV Player, POP Player, and BBC Sounds. Altogether, it provides access to more than 40,000 hours of free to watch, on-demand content.

Explore Freeview Play is a smart TV application that provides a universal search function along with personalised recommendations across its full suite of on-demand video players and box sets, making it easy for people to find something to watch in a matter of seconds. The app, which underwent a major upgrade in July, ensures that PBS America will launch to a massive potential audience.

Freeview Play’s chief commercial officer Deep Holder said the service was thrilled to become PBS America’s launch partner in the U.K. “We are now home to eleven on-demand players, with over 95% of the U.K.’s most watched programming alongside new exclusive titles, all for free,” he said. “There has never been a better time to become a Freeview Play viewer.”

PBS America General Manager Richard Kingsbury concurred, saying Freeview Play was the obvious starting point for the channel’s first-ever catch-up service. “Most of our linear audience is on Freeview with a reach of two million viewers per month,” he said. “Freeview Play provides a trusted environment of high quality channel brands that we are very happy to join.”