PBS’s video streaming service does what the channel itself does finest: mirror the tradition and historical past of our nation and the broader world. The free service supplies entry to hundreds of hours’ price of on-demand programming from flagship PBS collection, equivalent to PBS NewsHour and Frontline, plus a lot of Ken Burns’ documentaries. PBS Video additionally incorporates a stay TV streaming part: Subscribers can watch feeds of native PBS broadcast channels. Word that the very best PBS reveals (and lots of episodes from prime collection) are locked behind a paid subscription—albeit a fairly priced one. Our largest points with the service are that PBS Video locations unskippable advertisements throughout programming and doesn’t allow you to obtain titles for offline viewing on cellular units.
PBS Movies vs. PBS Passport vs. PBS Documentaries
There are 3 ways so that you can expertise PBS programming outdoors of watching your native TV station. The PBS Video app permits customers to look at stay feeds from PBS stations round america in addition to choose on-demand leisure, information, and documentary movies and reveals. PBS Video presents a premium tier referred to as PBS Passport, out there to donors who contribute at the very least $60 a 12 months or $5 a month to their native PBS station. With PBS Passport, you possibly can entry new and extra episodes of PBS favorites from its huge catalog, equivalent to Discovering Your Roots, Masterpiece, Nature, Nova, plus further Ken Burns documentaries.
PBS Documentaries, then again, is an Amazon Prime Channel. That channel, which prices $3.99 per 30 days, is residence to standard PBS documentary collection and movies like Prince Philip: The Plot To Make A King and The Black Panthers: Vanguard Of The Revolution. Word that there’s some overlap in content material between PBS Documentaries and PBS Passport, although the previous focuses particularly on long-form options.
What Can You Watch on PBS Video?
The PBS Video app is residence to over 4,000 information, tradition, leisure, science, and nature reveals. Kanopy, one other free service, could also be extra strong with its assortment of over 30,000 movies, however PBS has loads of flagship programming with loyal followers.
In the event you like to see muslin robes and elaborate headwear, the Masterpiece productions listed below the Winter Dramas class shall be of specific curiosity. Within the Masterpiece part, you possibly can watch interval dramas like All Creatures Nice and Small, The Lengthy Track, and Miss Scarlet and the Duke. Beloved miniseries like Satisfaction and Prejudice, starring a younger Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, and 2008’s BBC hit Sense and Sensibility, an adaption of Jane Austen’s basic novel, can be found to you as effectively.
PBS Video hosts tons of nice documentaries. You possibly can watch alternatives from American Masters, America Reframed, NOVA, and PBS NewsHour, in addition to some Ken Burns documentaries. The remaining are on PBS Documentaries.
Dwell PBS Streams
Native information, sports activities, and tradition reveals broadcast by your native PBS affiliate are additionally out there for streaming. For instance, as a result of I stay in Atlanta, Georgia, the native station’s choices have been from the ATL PBA channel.
In the event you don’t like your native station’s programming, you possibly can try others. To alter stations, go to the Settings tab, select Change Station, after which enter the zip code for an additional space. If you return to the house menu on the PBS, you will note native reveals from that location.
PBS Video means that you can watch livestreams from over 100 native PBS stations. Word that the stay feed out of your member station might not comply with the identical schedule because the on-air broadcast in that space and you can watch livestreams from solely these PBS channels close to your location.
In an identical means, Paramount+ consists of entry to pick native and nationwide CBS broadcast streams. You possibly can alternatively watch stay native PBS programming with each YouTube TV and Locast.
How A lot Does PBS Video Price?
PBS Video is free to entry and does not even require you to enroll in an account, however generally accounts are helpful for customized streaming suggestions and account preferences. In the event you do select to arrange an account, you possibly can both authenticate with an current Google, Fb, or Apple account, or join PBS Video immediately with an e-mail handle and password.
Another free video streaming services do not require you to create an account. Kanopy and Peacock, our prime selections for the class, do require you to arrange accounts, nonetheless.
In case you are already a PBS donor, you possibly can hyperlink the e-mail handle related together with your account to your PBS Video login. In case you are not already a donor, merely click on the Grow to be a Member button to arrange your recurring donation after which hyperlink your accounts afterward.
PBS Passport, at $5 per 30 days, is cheaper than most mainstream video streaming providers, however its worth is in keeping with many documentary streaming providers. For comparability, Netflix begins at $8.99 per 30 days and Disney+ is $7.99 per 30 days. CuriosityStream‘s most cost-effective tier is just $2.99 per 30 days, whereas MagellanTV costs $6.99 per 30 days.
The PBS Video app is on the market on the internet, cellular platforms (Android and iOS), media streaming devices (Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Hearth TV, and Roku), and Samsung’s good TVs. PBS Video doesn’t provide apps for gaming consoles, nonetheless. I examined the service on an Apple TV and an iPhone.
PBS Video’s Apple TV Interface
PBS Video’s format could be very straightforward to navigate and incorporates a darkish blue background with brilliant, colourful thumbnails. As soon as you discover one thing to look at, simply click on on the thumbnail to see a quick description, trailers and extras, and an inventory of associated titles.
In the event you see one thing you’d like to look at later, add it to the My Checklist part. To do that, you faucet or hover your mouse over the video’s thumbnail, and click on the My Checklist button. In the event you don’t have time to complete watching one thing in a single sitting, PBS Video provides the final video you watched to the Resume Watching class on the Dwelling tab.
I would love PBS Video so as to add some form of group-watching characteristic. A number of mainstream video streaming providers, together with Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, and Netflix provide this functionality. Co-watching choices make streaming extra enjoyable and interactive, and who would not need to collect the gang collectively to look at Antiques Roadshow on a Friday evening?
PBS Video on Cell
I downloaded the PBS Video app on my iPhone XS operating iOS 14.4 to check out the cellular expertise and did not encounter any efficiency points with the app. The cellular app retains the identical navy-blue background and vibrant thumbnails, however seems much more at residence on my telephone’s smaller display screen dimension.
Streaming on-demand video and the stay feed from a neighborhood PBS station is painless. Simply faucet the thumbnail of what you need to watch and the app takes you to the playback display screen. You need to use the Image-in-Image (PIP) operate to look at movies whereas doing different issues in your telephone. In contrast to indie and art-house streaming service Ovid.tv (and most each different video streaming service), you can’t obtain programming to look at offline. This can be a severe limitation, and one which you do not discover in PBS Documentaries.
One of many service’s drawbacks are the unskippable advertisements. Once I watched a 52-minute episode of Antiques Roadshow on my cellular system, I encountered a 30-second advert to start out the present, however didn’t run into any others. It is nowhere close to as dangerous as Hulu’s over-2-minute advertisements, and PBS advertisements don’t seem on each present or each film, however their presence is noticeable. In the event you’re on the lookout for no-cost, ad-free documentary programming, try Kanopy.
PBS Movies’ playback interface is pretty simple. You get customary playback controls and the flexibility to clean via the video’s timeline, together with a 10-second rewind button on the internet participant and 15-second rewind and quick ahead controls on the cellular app. You possibly can allow and customise closed captions from the playback display screen on the internet participant and choose the playback decision. In the event you’re watching on Apple TV, you may have the flexibility to scale back sudden loud sounds by going to the Video and Audio menu and toggling Cut back Loud Sounds.
I examined the app’s streaming efficiency over a Gigabit Ethernet connection and a Wi-Fi connection (450Mbps obtain) on cellular. I watched a brief video referred to as Solely in Atlanta: Midtown on the Apple TV app with none issues, in addition to an episode of Antiques Roadshow. I resumed playback on my cell phone partway via the latter present with out difficulty.
Accessibility and Parental Controls
You possibly can modify the closed captioning settings immediately from the PBS Video’s playback display screen in addition to select the language. Obtainable changes embody the font dimension, font household, font coloration, in addition to the opacity of the textual content, window, and background. The service does not assist audio descriptions like Amazon Prime Video or Apple TV+. When enabled, this accessibility characteristic supplies an audible narration of issues occurring on-screen that might not be discernible from the dialog alone.
PBS Video doesn’t have any parental management features, however its programming is usually appropriate for all ages. You possibly can obtain the separate PBS Youngsters Video app for Android and iOS, nonetheless, for a extra focused library. Disney+ additionally consists of very kid-friendly reveals and films, but it surely enables you to create particular profiles for youthful viewers. Kanopy presents a complete part of kid-centric streaming content material, too.
PBS Video and VPN
A VPN may help defend your privateness on-line and spoof your location, however some video streaming providers block VPN visitors to implement regional streaming rights. To check whether or not PBS Video works with a VPN, I linked my iPhone to a ProtonVPN server primarily based within the Netherlands. Whereas my telephone was linked to the VPN, I used to be unable to play sure movies on the app, together with Passport movies. The app merely mentioned that video was not out there in my area. Once I switched to a US-based VPN server, I used to be capable of watch all the pieces that was unavailable over the opposite server connection.
Even when you do discover a VPN that works with each considered one of your video streaming providers, that concord won’t final. Video streaming providers are always discovering new methods to detect and prohibit VPN visitors. We suggest you select a VPN primarily based on different elements, equivalent to its worth, options, and privateness stance.
The Better of PBS…for a Worth
PBS Video presents each on-demand streaming reveals and stay feeds of native PBS stations totally free and with out requiring you to create an account. The premium Passport tier, which unlocks considerably extra of PBS’s huge library, could be very inexpensive. Drawbacks to the service embody the lack to obtain titles for offline viewing and that almost all of the streaming catalog is just out there for US residents.
Netflix continues to be our Editors’ Selection winner for on-demand video streaming due to its distinctive library of originals and films. Hulu, one other Editors’ Selection choose, is a versatile streaming possibility with each a sturdy on-demand library and a very good stay TV channel lineup. Editors’ Selection winner YouTube TV dominates the stay TV market with an intuitive interface and top-notch options.
Get Our Finest Tales!
Join What’s New Now to get our prime tales delivered to your inbox each morning