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Changes to this version include:

  • Update "Support provided by..." and "Learn more" contextual text requirements
  • Remove the requirement that producers include a 300x60 unit alongside partner player implementations, but clarify that all pages must carry the 300x250.
  • State that pre-roll can be up to 30 seconds in length.

Download the PBS Online Sponsorship Visual Guide

PBS Standard Message Requirements

All new and redesigned Web sites within the domain must carry standard sponsorship inventory.

Display units: For display, a standard 300x250 pixel sponsorship unit must be used. This unit must appear on the Web site home page and every page of the Web site, including pages that feature streaming video. The unit must appear completely above the fold, per the required resolution defined in this Manual. In addition, the following text must appear near the unit as specified:

  • If above the sponsorship unit: "Support for provided by:"
  • If below the sponsorship unit: "Providing support for"

In either case, Producer should also provide a link to "Learn more," which should direct  the user to the following page on

Producer should allocate an additional 20 pixels to accommodate this text.

Video: For pages that feature streaming video, the video player must carry a standard pre-roll message up to 30 seconds in length. Pages that feature a video player should also include the 300x250 standard display unit. 

All required sponsorship units will be served using PBS-provided ad serving and tracking code.

Producers who wish to use the standard banner and video sponsorship inventory to acknowledge program funders should contact Angela Lunter at for details. When these units are not used by producers to acknowledge program funders, PBS will aggregate and sell general sponsorship across PBS content verticals. When no sponsorships have been sold, PBS will fill any unused space with house promotions at its discretion.

For the purposes of this Manual, program or production funders can be defined as corporate and/or philanthropic funders of the broadcast program.

Display Messaging: Additional Sponsorship Messages on Program Web Sites

In addition to any Standard Message Requirements outlined above, producers may include basic recognition for their production funders. This additional recognition may appear on any program site page, per the message-to-content proportion limits described in Section 3 below. The following Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB)-compliant units are acceptable for recognizing production funders:

  • 88x31
  • 120x90
  • 120x60

Examples of these sizes can be seen on the IAB web site at

PBS must approve any other unit sizes in advance. All units must appear in the perimeter of the program site page design (top, right column, left column, bottom). They must be static in nature and may not contain any animation.

Display Messaging: Message-to-Content Proportion on Program Web Sites

The sum total of all sponsorship acknowledgements appearing on any page of a Web site may not exceed 20% of the area on that page, even if a portion of the page is "below the fold" or requires scrolling. This percentage applies to the total number of pixels allocated to a site design at the required resolution defined in this Manual for program sites.

Any program funder recognition that appears in conjunction with the PBS Standard Message Requirements identified in Section 1 above must still comply with the 20% space limit. For example, if three program funders are acknowledged with logo badges on a program site page, PBS will consider those badges when reviewing the percentage of overall sponsorship messages to content, including the required 300x250 pixel unit.

Streaming Video

As described in Section 1 above, only a standard pre-roll up to 30 seconds in length can be included in any program video stream.   Producers who wish to use this inventory for program funders must contact Angela Lunter at for additional information.  

Downloadable Media (Audio and Video Podcasts)

All downloadable media must comply with current PBS standards and specifications as outlined by PBS, including the inclusion of any required PBS identifiers within individual files and/or as part of the audio/video player.

Program funders may be acknowledged within the visual environment around the downloadable media player used on the program site. The overall 20% rule referenced in Section 3 will apply to player environments.

Program funders may also be acknowledged with a streamed or downloaded message.
All messages must be preceded by the following preamble language: "Support for this program provided by..." Any other preamble language must be approved in advance by PBS.

All messages must adhere to the PBS Guidelines for On-air Underwriting Messages. If a :15 spot is approved for PBS air, then its use is acceptable within a podcast.

Message Placement

Only one audio or video sponsorship message is allowed per download (clip, segment or full episode). Producers may alternate or rotate program funders among media elements, if desired. A sponsorship message can be placed in the following ways:

  • Near beginning of file: If placed near the beginning of an audio or video download, sponsorship messages may be preceded by program content, in a manner similar to placement of sponsor messages in broadcast content. It may also be the first element heard when the content is requested by the user.
  • End of stream or download: The producer may opt to place the sponsorship message after the stream has concluded (post-roll).

To the degree that a producer is contractually obligated to acknowledge a philanthropic funder for a specific program, PBS may allow a second acknowledgment at the end of the stream to identify these philanthropic organizations by name only, in accordance with the message length parameters listed below.

Message Length

Promotional Clips

  • Up to :07 may be used to acknowledge all program funders in promotional clips that are at least 1 minute in length.

Program Segments or Full Episodes

  • Up to :07 may be used to acknowledge all program funders in a program segment under 2 minutes in length.
  • Up to :15 may be used to acknowledge all program funders in a program segment or episode over 2 minutes in length.

The preamble language will be considered in conjunction with the time limits outlined above. In the case when an on-air credit is repurposed for use online, the producer is responsible for clearing all rights for that credit to be streamed.

Creative Message Guidelines

The attributes and overall effect of each online sponsorship message must be in keeping with the noncommercial nature of PBS.

Accordingly, online sponsorship messages may not contain:

  • Superlatives or other qualitative or comparative language
  • Price or value information
  • Inducements to buy
  • Calls to action – however, nontransactional language, including a shorthand way of directing the user to click for more information about the sponsor may be accepted.

Please note that this list is not exhaustive and PBS reserves the right to reject any message content that it deems inappropriate, for any reason. If a message is approved for broadcast on PBS, it is generally considered acceptable within the online environment as long as it complies with the message length limitations and other specs outlined below. In the case when an on-air credit is repurposed for use online, the producer is responsible for clearing all rights for that credit to be streamed.

Some commercial techniques are unique to the online environment. These are examples of what is unacceptable for use in PBS sponsorship messages:

  • Strobing, pop-ups and pop-unders
  • Extending beyond the space dedicated without user initiation
  • Failing to retract to the dedicated space upon user scroll off
  • Beginning audio and/or video clips without user initiation
  • Preventing users from ending audio and/or video clips
  • Deceptively mimicking computer functions