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PBS Expands Its Digital Content Reach This Summer with Fresh Offerings Across Multiple Platforms

PBS Digital Studios Announces the Launch of IT’S LIT and READ AWAKENING as Part of the Multi-Platform Summer Reading Initiative THE GREAT AMERICAN READ; Expands Virtual Reality Slate with New Oculus App, ROLLER COASTER VR

ARLINGTON, VA(13 Jul 2018)

Today, PBS announced a new slate of original programming and digital initiatives exclusively for its social media and online platforms. Created to increase engagement with digital natives, the new content includes a virtual reality app, multiple series from PBS Digital Studios, a digital original series hosted on pbs.org and the 25 short form films included in the PBS Online Film Festival.

The PBS Online Film Festival, a multi-platform event increasing the reach and visibility of independent voices, returns for its seventh year July 16-27. The festival features 25 short-form independent films from public media partners and stations across the country. Audiences can stream the festival on all PBS digital platforms, including pbs.org, PBS Video apps, Facebook and YouTube. To learn more about the PBS Online Film Festival, please visit http://www.pbs.org/filmfestival.

WHAT I HEAR WHEN YOU SAY is currently streaming all episodes on pbs.org. The new 10-episode web series features scientists, educators and entertainers who deconstruct complex and confusing vernacular by tackling preconceived notions of race and identity. The project breaks down stereotypes and builds awareness around cultural sensitivities associated with words and statements used to describe marginalized groups. Notable talent featured includes Soledad O'Brien, Phoebe Robinson, Hari Kondabolu, Kristin Russo, Tyler Ford, Franchesca Ramsey, Jamin Warren and many others.

This summer, PBS Digital Studios produces two Facebook Watch digital miniseries inspired by PBS’ THE GREAT AMERICAN READ. Hosted by Lindsay Ellis, IT’S LIT is a six-episode limited series of video essays that celebrates the role of books in popular culture and explores why Americans love to read. The series takes advantage of Facebook’s community features to drive conversation and commentary in a shareable and engaging way. READ AWAKENING is a four-part literary variety show that blends comedy, music and more, hosted by Dominique Taylor and produced with funding support from Black Public Media. Described as a modern version of the hit children’s series “Reading Rainbow,” READ AWAKENING features enlightening conversations about books, influencers and trends within the literary community.

More than 300,000 people follow PBS Digital Studios content across its six active Facebook Watch pages. The content has generated more than 400,000 shares and averages 2 million monthly views.

“At PBS, our goal is always to deliver fresh, quality content that informs, entertains and inspires, and can also be used to generate change, whether that’s learning a new skill or challenging us to think about the world differently,” said Don Wilcox, Vice President, PBS Digital Marketing and Services. “As engagement with our content continues to increase across all platforms, it’s exciting to see our series drive conversation in diverse communities across the web.”

In addition to expanding content on Facebook Watch, PBS Digital Studios continues to grow its YouTube presence with this summer’s addition of CRASH COURSE ENGINEERING featuring Dr. Shini Samora and THEATER & DRAMA featuring Mike Rugnetta, both extensions of the popular Crash Course YouTube show. The Studio also recently renewed several popular YouTube series, including IT’S OKAY TO BE SMARTBRAINCRAFTTHE ART ASSIGNMENTEONSSPACE TIMEPHYSICS GIRLKQED’S DEEP LOOKWNET’S FIRST PERSON and ORIGIN OF EVERYTHING. Partnering with three member stations, PBS Digital Studios is also developing three new YouTube series: NOURISH, a series on the history, culture and science of Southern foods; AMERICA FROM SCRATCH, a series exploring American government; and REINVENTORS, a show featuring scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs working to combat climate change. To date, PBS Digital Studios has created a network of over 20 active YouTube channels and more than 14 million subscribers who bring in an average of 50 million views a month on the platform.

PBS Passport, a member benefit from local PBS stations that provides eligible donors with extended access to a rich streaming video library of public television programming, exclusively premieres FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES on Monday, August 20, 2018. The series follows Toronto’s only female private detectives as they take on the cases the police don’t want to touch. In a time of change and hopefulness, their gender is their biggest advantage as they defy expectations and rebel against convention. Following the premiere, new episodes release weekly through Monday, October 27. Also coming this summer, PBS PASSPORT SUMMER CONCERTS is a special collection of performances featuring presentations by Journey, Paul Simon, George, Queen, Alicia Keys, Andrea Bocelli, Cyndi Lauper, Lauren Hill, James Taylor, Igg Pop, Brad Paisley, Herbie Hancock and the Foo Fighters.  

Coming this fall, PBS Digital Studios is set to launch a new virtual reality app called ROLLER COASTER VR for Oculus. The three-part VR experience takes audiences aboard their favorite roller coasters for a virtual thrill ride while educating them on the physics of coasters through an interactive adventure. The experience will be hosted by Dianna Cowern, who is also the host of the hit PBS Digital Studios YouTube channel PHYSICS GIRL. Videos of the experience will also be featured on PBS Digital Studios’ YouTube network and Facebook pages.

About PBS

PBS, with nearly 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches over 90 million people through television and 30 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. Decades of research confirms that PBS’ premier children’s media service, PBS KIDS, helps children build critical literacy, math and social-emotional skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality educational content on TV – including a 24/7 channel, online at pbskids.org, via an array of mobile apps and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, or by following PBS on TwitterFacebook or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.