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You have decided to create a mobile app - that's great!  Before submitting a proposal to PBS, you must first think about what you want to accomplish with your app then design a concept and a plan around that.  This section provides some ideas and recommendations to help get you started.   

(lightbulb) Remember, a well thought out plan leads to a smooth development process! 


The most important factor at the beginning of the app development process is your launch date.  The launch date dictates the flow of everything that happens going forward.  Be sure to examine all requirements and features of your app when determining a launch date and PBS will explore available resources and work with you to achieve your goal. 

 View key development stages

There are seven critical phases during the app development process.  Below is a graphic outlining those phases and a brief description of each phase.


1:  Research

During the research phase, applicants will determine goals and create a concept and development plan.  Learn more
2:  ProposalThe proposal phase involves presenting your project plan and all required elements to PBS. Learn more
3:  Startup (Roles and Responsibilities)Once PBS greenlights your app, it's time to assemble a team.  Think about what roles will be assigned to each team member and the responsibilities that come with each role.
4:  Design, Wireframes and PrototypeTo have a clear idea of what your final app should look like, a prototype must be developed.  This phase is dedicated to the creation of your app mockup.
5:  DevelopmentOnce there is a clear understanding of the look and feel and functionality of your app, it's time to develop!  The amount of work you have done in the previous phases determines how quickly this phase can go.  Thorough preparation typically leads to faster development.
6:  Pre-LaunchThe pre-launch is an opportunity to go over your checklist, test your app and make sure it's ready for release. 
7:  Initial LaunchThis is the culmination of the previous 6 phases.  Your app goes live in the iTunes store and users start lining up! 


Identify the goals you want to accomplish with your mobile app and think about the metrics associated with each goal to help develop a plan going forward.  PBS uses this information to:

  • evaluate how to prioritize app submissions
  • keep the focus on app features and content that serve the goals
  • evaluate performance of live apps

Below are some goals which your app can serve:



Audience Growth

Forecasted Audience Size (e.g., expected downloads or monthly visits)
Engagement Indicators (i.e., expected avg. sessions per month, avg. time spent per session, etc.)
Reach to New / Under-Served Audiences (i.e., what % of the audience do you expect to be new or under-served?)

Revenue Generation

Expected Net Revenues
(please deduct fees and commissions to the platform owner, e.g., Apple, or to sponsorship sales before calculating net revenues)


This is a qualitative metric. Innovation can be technological or originality of content/feature set, but it must be innovative in the context of all things mobile, not just public media. The bar for meeting this goal is high.

Serving member stations  


 As you begin to develop your concept, ask yourself the following questions to help you get started:

  • What key features and functionality do I want my app to have?
  • How will my app serve audience needs?

PBS has developed some recommendations to help you:

  • Create concepts that offer more than just entertainment.  The goal of the app concept and marketing message should be enrichment in addition to entertainment. 
  • Keep it locally relevant.  Strive to find a local or geo-targeted angle to the extent feasible or relevant to the content.
  • Create an interactive experience.  Seek opportunities to allow users to collaborate, compete, share or have some form of social interaction around your content or even contributing to it. Mobile is a great opportunity to let the "public" shine through in public media!
  • Make your app stand out from the rest.  Develop a unique angle.  Look for features and functionalities that are natural offshoots of the content and what your audience wants to do with that content.
  • Maintain high quality.  Your audience expects the same high editorial standards you have on-air and online so be sure those standards carry over to your app.


Some elements that need to be considered in the planning phase include:

  • intended platform type
  • native app or mobile web app/site
  • app updates
  • functionality changes
  • content refresh

When considering platforms, please think about whether a native app is necessary or if your audience could be better served with a Mobile Web application or site.  Below is a table outlinining some specifics of each option. 

(warning)  Keep in mind that third parties have total control over native applications whereas PBS offers much greater control and flexibility with your Mobile Web site on


Native Apps

Mobile Web

Development Skills

Specialized programming

Web design

Functional Capabilities

Tied to device

Tied to browser

Audience Strategy

(45M people – fragmented by OS)

(250M people in USA alone)

Distribution Strategy



Channel Control

Apple, Google, RIM, Wireless Carriers

PBS and stakeholders