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Before you submit anything to PBS, there are some things you should consider. 


Developing concepts

Key goals for PBS mobile apps: audience growth, sustainability (income), serving member stations, and driving innovation. What are your goals? How will you define and measure metrics?

Concept: What are the key features and functionality? How does it serve audience needs? Tie it back to research.

PBS Recommends:

  • This is probably a given, but we look for concepts that will offer enrichment and not pure entertainment and that have a specific enrichment goal. This goal should be the stake in the ground for the app concept and for the marketing message.
  • Strive to find a local or geo-targeted angle to the extent feasible or relevant to the content.
  • 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!
  • Develop your unique angle -- what will make your app stand out from the pack? Look for features and functionalities that are natural offshoots of the content and what your audience wants to do with that content.
  • Maintain the same high editorial standards you have on-air and online because your audience will not accept anything less.


Your product plan should include app updates (functionality changes) and content refresh (new content which might require an app update or might be provided online, as in the case of streaming media).

When you consider platforms, please consider whether a native app is necessary, or if your audience could be better served first with a Mobile Web application or site. Also consider that third parties have total control over native applications – it is their sandbox – 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


(45MM people – fragmented by OS)

(250MM people in USA alone)

Distribution Strategy




Apple, Google, RIM, Wireless Carriers

PBS and stakeholders


Sharing your plans with PBS

The earlier you can send us your planning documents / proposal, the more likely we are to be in a position to advise and support the app.

Decision factors in PBS review:

  • Does the app serve an unfilled audience need?
  • Is the app going to stand out in sea of 1MM apps?
  • Could the need be better filled with Mobile Web?
  • Is there a clear and sustainable business plan?
  • Are the goals/metrics realistic and desirable?

We intend to have an iterative dialog with producers around each app proposal and seek Q&A, as opposed to this being a one-shot review meeting.

Ultimate outcomes:

  • Approve – OK to move forward immediately with full PBS support
  • Reject – Depending on rights situation the producer may or may not be able to produce and distribute independently.
  • Approve with conditions – Usually used for approval in advance of resource availability or for distant future apps. It means we revisit when we reach the point when we can kickoff the project, and is meant to convey that PBS intends to support the project.

Distant projects:

  • Distant projects are 6+ months from starting.
  • Should go through review process sooner, not later.
  • Approval will be contingent upon future review when the project is about to start.
  • At this review, we will need to update the concept and platform choice(s) to reflect the original goals but adapt to the then-current platform capabilities and market environment.

Key Development Stages

Phase 1: Research

Phase 2: Proposal

Phase 3: Startup (Roles & Responsibilities)

Phase 4: Design, Wireframes and Prototype

Phase 5: Development

Phase 6: Pre-launch

Phase 7: Initial Launch