I want to thank you for joining us for the first PBS Interactive / Producer content collaboration call.  We covered a lot of ground in the one-hour that we spent on the phone.  The PBSi Content and Promotions Team found the information you provided to be very useful and will utilize it in making promotional decisions on our digital platforms.   I hope that hearing from the other producers on the call was also beneficial to you.

I have created a Google document that includes the notes taken during the meeting.  If you would like to review it, please send me – - your email address and I will give you access.  Please provide any updates or revisions to the document if needed.

Since this was our first call, we’re still working on new ways of gathering this information and sharing it with you. Please send any suggestions my way.

Our next call will take place on Wednesday, April 11th @ 2PM.  During the call we’ll discuss the months of May and June.  I will provide more details as the date get closer.

If you want to stay in contact with members of the PBSi Content and Promotions Team between now and then, you can email us –  We look forward to receiving your updates.

Lastly, congratulations goes to Dave Gustavson from the NewsHour -  he was the first person to correctly answer the trivia question:  What is Elmo’s favorite food?  Dave answered pizza, but he could have also said wasabi.  Dave won the highly coveted Downton Abbey Season 2 DVD.



Reminder -  

The first ever PBSi / Producer content collaboration call will take place this Wednesday, February 15th @ 2PM.  The hour-long call will focus on promotional priorities for the months of March and April.  Since this is the inaugural call, here is the loose agenda just to keep some order – but we are open to ideas about how to best maximize our time together.

1.     Set-up and introductions

2.     PBS review key promotions

3.     Producers to review key promotions

-       Each station group will provide their highlights per program

4.     Open conversation and future suggestions

The initial premise behind the event is for PBS and its producers to better understand each other’s content priorities and develop the best ways to leverage them across all of our platforms to drive traffic.  This will also open up an opportunity for producers to collaborate together where their content areas intersect.

We are looking for updates on site feature launches, content streaming, and any archival features that may be timely/topical or just cool.

To participate in the call on Wednesday, February 15th @ 2pm. Call in details below –

Starting on Wednesday, February 15th @ 2PM the PBSi Content and Promotions Team invites the producer community to join a monthly call to discuss online promotional priorities for their programs. The purpose of this call is two fold - it will help the team determine its programming schedule for the PBS homepage, video portal, mobile apps, PBS Previews Newsletter and social media outreach.  Plus, it will give producers an opportunity to share and potentially coordinate their editorial priorities. The first call will focus on upcoming promotions in March and April. 


To join the call on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 2PM -- 

1.  Please join my meeting.

2.  Use your microphone and speakers (VoIP) - a headset is recommended. Or, call inusing your telephone.

Dial +1 (636) 277-0142

AccessCode: 122-552-034

Audio PIN: Shown after joining the meeting

Meeting ID: 122-552-034


OnlineMeetings Made Easy™

As the roll-out of COVE 2.0 continues we wanted to bring to your attention some changes that have been causing producers problems. 

1. When adding a video to the Legacy COVE Admin tool (not the COVE 2.0 Admin tool) producers should not write titles any longer than 60 characters in the "Episode Title" field.


If you do your video will not show up in the PBS Video portal when you publish it. This is because COVE 2.0 now limits titles to just 60 characters. It is important for producers to keep this in mind because the Legacy COVE Admin Tool does not limit the number of characters you can enter in that field.

2. The Expiration Date field is currently off by 5 hours. This means that if you set a video to expire at a certain time, that video will not actually expire until 5 hours after the time you set. Until this is fixed producers should subtract 5 hours from your expiration date/time. This goes for the both the Legacy COVE Admin and the COVE 2.0 Admin. 

Please keep both of these tips in mind as you publish videos in the coming weeks.

With the New Year fast approaching, please make sure your site footers are updated with 2012 copyright information.

E.g. Copyright 1995- 2012. Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). All Rights Reserved.

We'll see you in 2012!

Hello Producers,

We are happy to announce a change in our one-URL policy. PBS now allows show specific URL’s (for example, in Web markers and Web tags. 

If you have an active program with PBS, please contact your PBS Interactive Program Manager to get approval for the URL you want to mention in your Web tag.  Once that URL has been approved, it will be shared with your Senior Programming Associate in PBS Programming, who has final say for on-air Web tag and Web marker presentation. PBS Interactive does not oversee the specific execution of the on-air tag, such as voice-overs or teases.  This will continue to be reviewed and approved by your Senior Programming Associate.

PBSi will be tracking the effects of the one-URL rule on traffic throughout Since fewer viewers may see the home page, we will be reaching out to all of you on how you can provide better cross-promotion to other producers and PBS priorities.

Additionally, ongoing series producers may now mention their presence on Facebook and Twitter in their end-of-show Web tag with language such as “Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.” All other programs may mention PBS’s official Facebook and Twitter accounts. Twitter and Facebook logos are permitted too, but must be minimal. Facebook and Twitter URLs are never permitted on-air.

Twitter hashtags and talent-specific account mentions are permitted for on-going series or designated promotional priorities with the prior approval of your Interactive Program Manager. These are permitted in both Web markers appearing during the broadcast and Web tags at the end of the program. Hashtags are generally expected to be series-specific rather than episode- or content-specific. On-air talent may identify their Twitter account only when contextually relevant in the program.

As with the one-URL rule, you must first get approval for your Twitter hashtag from your Interactive Program Manager.

This policy is now reflected in the Interactive section of the PBS Red Book:


Sarah Melville, Kevin Dando & Jayme Swain

An update to the COVE Partner Player was rolled out this morning. (12/15/11)

Now when the Partner Player loads on a web-page it loads with the lower control bar visible to the user.

                                              (click the image to view full size)

Prior to today when the Partner Player loaded on a page the user just saw the poster image with a play button over it. 

We kept hearing from producers that they felt this experience was just too stripped down; too basic. They said the player looked too much like just an image when it loaded on the page and they wanted something that looked more like a video player. 

So we brainstormed some solutions and decided that the quickest way to improve the experience was to just surface the control bar when the player first loaded.

This solution also has the added benefit of giving the user access to the Social Media sharing features of the player (Facebook, Twitter, Viral Feature) without having to first play the video. 

Additionally, we also updated the Play button that appears over the poster image when the player first loads. (circled in red below)

This button is now consistent with the one that appears when you pause a video. It is also a bit more transparent so it won't cover up any important parts of the poster image. This change to the play button will also appear in the Viral Player.

All deployed instances of the Partner Player and Viral Player were automatically updated this morning. There is no need to update any code on your site.

We are excited to bring this upgrade to you and are grateful for your feedback. Your suggestions were a big part of this improvement to the user experience.

Please let us know what you think of this new feature in the comments section below this blog post. We look forward to hearing from you.

Many thanks to all who participated in last week’s Interactive Summit.  You made our first combined summit with the Station Advisory Council a complete success!  It was great to bring so many people together for the first time. 

For your convenience we have uploaded a handful of the summit presentations and resources online.  Many of these decks are for internal use only, so we've placed them in Confluence where you will have to use your user name and password to log-in. (Quick hint: This is the same username you use to login to Producer Exchange and/ or Jira). Summits

For those who did not get a chance to fill out their summit surveys, please take a moment to do so here:

If you attended the pre-Summit workshop and did not return the workshop evaluation, you can do so online here:

We're always looking for new ways to improve these summits each year and appreciate your feedback.  Of course, please feel free to use the comment space below to add your thoughts as well. 

Thanks again for making this such a successful event!

COVE 2.0 Available Date bug

UPDATE on 1/9/12. This bug has been fixed. In the Legacy COVE Admin Tool producers can now set their Available Date/Time (in PST) and their video will publish at the time they have set. (keeping in mind standard publishing times). Please file a Video JIRA ticket if you experience any further problems with this feature.

The PBS team recently uncovered a bug in the Legacy COVE Admin that is preventing COVE from publishing video when an Available Date/Time is set in the future. 

This means that when a producer sets a date/time in the Available Date field in the Legacy COVE Admin Tool and publishes their video that video does not go live to users at that future date/time.

This bug does not exist for videos that get published immediately. If you publish a video with an Available Date of "Immediately" that video does indeed go live immediately.

Our team is working to resolve this bug as soon as possible.

Until then, producers should not rely on the ability to set videos to go live in the future. You should only publish videos immediately.

We apologize for this inconvenience and we will be sure to notify you as soon as this issue is resolved and you can again set videos to go live at future dates/time.

Please contact your Program Manger or Dan Haggerty ( if you have any questions or concerns.

As promised, our team was able to reduce the cache times for publishing from the Legacy COVE Admin to the new COVE 2.0 portal. This means that publishing should be significantly faster than the 80-minute maximum that COVE 2.0 was launched with.

Let us know just how fast publishing is working for you in the comments section below.

COVE 2.0 post-launch report

It has been almost 3 weeks now since COVE 2.0 has launched and we are excited to be moving forward and iterating on the new tool.

We have appreciated your patience and collaboration as we've worked to address the inevitable issues that occur with the launch of such a complex tool.

Now that things are settling down a bit we wanted to give you a quick update about where things are at and what will be happening in the coming weeks and months.

Keep those tickets coming

First off we want to encourage you to keep up the great work reporting issues through JIRA. Please continue to spot-check your videos in the PBS Video portal and on your producer website and report any problems you notice. The more reports we get of an issue the more data we have to help diagnose the problem and identify a solution. So keep up the great work! We couldn't do it without you.

Google Analytics outage

Unfortunately when COVE 2.0 was rolled out on November 10th two parts of the Google Analytics system used to track COVE metrics were not working properly.

The first part was the Video Event Tracking. This is the special event tracking used to track video views and other events in the COVE video players (duration events, sharing events, Viral Player instances). This issue was fixed on November 16th. So producers will not see any video event-tracking data in their Google Analytics account for November 10th through November 16th. 

The second part of our Google Analytics implementation that was not working properly was the reporting of portal video-page metrics in to Producer Google Analytics accounts. This is the method where pageviews for videos in the PBS Video portal get reported in to Producer accounts so they can get credit for that traffic. This issue was fixed on November 28th. This means you will likely notice a slight dip in your total pageviews from November 10th to November 28th. 

Publishing Tips

In the last few weeks we have gathered a few tips you can use to help ensure that publishing from the Legacy COVE Admin Tool to the new COVE 2.0 portal goes smoothly.

  1. We have had a few reports of producers being unable to ingest their videos in the Legacy COVE Admin Tool. They report that the "Publish" button does not appear for them after they click the "Submit" button. In these rare instances we have noticed that the problem appears to occur while the video file is being ingested after you click the "Submit" button. Because the video file never gets ingested into COVE then there is nothing to publish and that is why the "Publish" button does not appear. If the "Publish" button does not appear after 15 minutes or so we recommend you go back in to the metadata form and re-submit the video file URL. This will kick off the ingestion process again and the video file should get into COVE no problem the 2nd time which will in turn cause the Publish button to appear.
  1. COVE 2.0 does not accept incorrectly formatted NOLA codes. We had an issue with several videos not working and it turned out that it was because COVE 2.0 is not as forgiving about imprecise data as the old system was. In this case the NOLA Root and NOLA Episode fields had been filled out incorrectly and that was preventing the videos from working. The NOLA Root field should be a 4 letter code (e.g. NOVA, MLNH, FRON, AMEX, AMDO). The NOLA) that identifies your program. The NOLA Episode field should be the 6 digit numerical code (e.g. 000001, 003914, 001131) that identifies your particular episode. If you do not format the text in these fields correctly (4 letters for NOLA Root, 6 numbers for NOLA episode) it will prevent your video from working. At the very least you should always have the NOLA Root field filled out.

New SEO-friendly URL's

COVE 2.0 launched with an exciting new feature in the PBS Video portal. Now all program pages have SEO-friendly URL's. So instead of the NOVA program page appearing as, it now appears as This new vanity-URL signals to search engines (Google, Bing, ect.) and search users what the page is about. Its a small improvement but one we think will have a positive effect on SEO.

The Admin Tool is on its way

We are currently working on putting the finishing touches on the New COVE Admin Tool. A few months ago we put a Beta version of this tool in front of some producers and conducted user-testing. That user-testing showed us where there were weaknesses in the workflow and interface of the new tool. As a result we recommended a series of small label and button changes to improve the usability. These changes are being implemented now and we believe that they will help make the New COVE Admin Tool much more intuitive. As soon as this work is complete we will begin contacting producers to schedule their on-boarding. We are very close to being ready for that next step.

Those are the big points we'd like you to keep in mind right now.

We are excited about the progress that has happened in recent weeks and even though there have been some inevitable growing pains we're confident that we're moving in the right direction. The near future of COVE is very bright indeed.

We are committed to making sure you get the information you need about this product launch.

As always please don't hesitate to contact your Program Manager or Dan Haggerty ( if you have any questions or concerns.

Also please feel free to leave any questions in the Comments section below and we'll respond to them there for everybody's benefit.

In anticipation of the 2011 Holiday Season, PBS Interactive is placing a moratorium on major site launches and production changes due to limited staff resources that will be available during the holiday's.

Please review the dates listed below and make plans accordingly: 

  • Nov. 23, 2011 – Nov. 25, 2011 
  • Dec. 8, 2011-  Dec. 9, 2011  (PBS Product Summit)
  • Dec. 19, 2011 – Jan. 2, 2012

The moratorium applies to major deployments such as new site launches, manual site pushes/updates, and new server requests.  It does not apply to ongoing technical support. This will continue as normal except on days when PBS offices are closed. 

PBS Offices will be closed November 23rd (beginning at 1pm) through November 25th,  as well as December 23 – 26th and January 2nd.

If you have questions about the moratorium or if it poses a challenge to your production plans, please reach out to your program manager.

Thank you. We hope you all have a great holiday!


UPDATE at 3:30pm on 11/16/11. Publishing in COVE was restored this morning at around 10am. Producers should be able to publish videos now without issue. Videos that were published during this outage should appear. If you are unable to publish or if a video you previously published has not shown up please file a Video JIRA ticket so that we can provide direct individual assistance.


UPDATE at 5:30pm on 11/15/11. Video publishing in the Legacy COVE Admin Tool will remain down tonight. Our Developers tell us that they have isolated the issue and are in the process of completing the necessary changes. They will QA the fix tonight and deploy to production first thing tomorrow morning. At that time they believe all videos that might have been published today will go live.

If you have ingested a video today but not published it, it is best to just wait to publish until we're able to confirm the fix tomorrow morning.

We apologize for the continued inconvenience.

Video publishing is currently down in the Legacy COVE Admin Tool.

Yesterday afternoon some videos (not all) were not appearing after they had been published. 

In order to work on this problem the PBSi Products team needed to shut down publishing in the Legacy COVE Admin Tool at 5am this morning.

Producers can still ingest (submit) new content into the system. You just won't be able to publish it.

Our team anticipates that the ability to publish videos will resume later this afternoon. At that time, you will be able to publish any videos you've ingested. Any videos that were experiencing problems last night should appear as well.

We apologize for the inconvience.

Please contact your Program Manager if you have any questions or concerns.

COVE 2.0 is live

COVE 2.0 went live at 7am this morning.

We are excited to announce that everything went well with the launch and the new PBS Video Portal and COVE Admin Tool are up and running.

As with any major product launch there are going to be some issues that need to be ironed out. We have been closely documenting those issues and the team began work addressing them immediately following the launch today. 

Please do not attempt to fix these issues on your own. You run the risk of making the situation worse if you do.

We anticipate that most of the discrepancies you see in the new portal will be resolved within the next week. If however you notice an issue that persists beyond that timeframe please let us know.

We are immensely proud to bring you this exciting new product and are grateful for your patience, feedback and enthusiasm. 

Welcome to a new world of COVE.

The launch of COVE 2.0 has been scheduled for 7am tomorrow morning (11/10/11) EST.

The launch will consist of 2 things:

  1. The new PBS Video portal going live. The new portal will replace the old one at You will only notice a few changes in the new portal.
  2. The New COVE Admin Tool going live.

Producers do not have to change anything in their daily COVE workflow after this launch. You will be able to continue to publish videos and manage your stacks from the COVE Admin Tool you are currently using (now being called the "Legacy Admin Tool"). The only difference you'll experience is an increase in publishing time and an inability to make changes to your Program Page.

As with any large product release there are going to be some kinks to work out. When the new portal goes live tomorrow, you may notice a few small data issues (e.g. some videos appearing in the wrong order). Please do not attempt to fix these problems on your own. We are aware of the situation and will be working diligently to fix all issues shortly after launch. We expect that most of these problems will be resolved within the next week. If you notice that a problem is persisting beyond that time frame please file a Video JIRA ticket and let us know. 

If you notice an urgent issue that requires immediate attention tomorrow, please contact your program manager or file a Video JIRA ticket.

After launch we will make a few additional tweaks to the New COVE Admin Tool and then begin to migrate producers into the new system. Our current estimate is that this migration will begin in earnest the first week of December. We will be contacting you shortly to schedule your migration and training on the new admin.

Please don't hesitate to contact your program manager or Dan Haggerty ( if you have any questions or concerns regarding this launch.

We are excited to finally bring you these new products and we look forward to working with you to realizing all the benefits they offer.

The new PBS Video portal

As we mentioned earlier this week the launch of COVE 2.0 is impending.
The latest update we have is that the launch date has been pushed back to this Thursday 11/10/11.
This is now the earliest COVE 2.0 could be pushed to production.

Launch will consist of 2 new products going live.

  1. A new PBS Video portal. The new portal will replace the old one at .
  2. The new COVE Admin Tool.

In a subsequent post we will discuss the exciting improvements you will see in the new COVE Admin Tool.

For now though lets focus on the differences you be seeing in the new PBS Video portal at


The new portal will be powered by the COVE API. This means page load-time will be significantly faster; especially for pages that are not visited frequently.

More importantly though powering the portal with the COVE API allowed us to build the new COVE Admin Tool. This was the large portion of the work that was done on the portal and the primary motivation for the update. We had to get the portal running on the new COVE API so it could communicate with the New COVE Admin Tool.

The rest of the changes that occurred were small improvements or features we removed because they weren't seeing a lot of use. This was not a large overhaul of the user interface.

Here are the differences you will see at launch;

No Keywords Drop-down

One of the biggest things you'll notice when you look at the Program Pages in the new portal is that there is no longer a "keywords" drop-down. (circled in red below)
This is because this feature has been removed.

The decision to remove this feature was based upon research which indicated that users were not using it. Our research showed that only about 2% of total clicks on the Program Pages occurred on the Keywords drop-down menu. So, because it was not heavily utilized and building the feature in to the new portal would extend the roadmap for launch we made the decision to leave it out. That is not to say that we don't see value in having a method for users to filter content on the Program Page. We do. We just think it could be done better and this is the first step in improving that capability on the Program Pages.

Producers will be able to continue to assign their videos to these keyword (also called Program Topics or Program Categories) in the new COVE Admin Tool and they should indeed continue to do so.  When we do come up with a new method for surfacing this filtering mechanism on the Program Pages that solution will be based on the keyword data you assigned.

No Collections

The other big difference you'll notice at launch will be the removal of collections. Again, this was a feature that saw little traffic so in order to speed up the delivery of the new portal we left it out. Our team is also evaluating how to replace this functionality and how we can improve on the feature.

More consistent page layout

We have also brought the Topics pages and Related Video layout in line with the layout on the Program Pages. In the current portal these sections are displayed in the old page layout. 

In the new portal they will be organized the same way they are on the Program Pages.

This should provide a more consistent interface for our users making it easier for them to navigate the content.

That is it.
We tried to not change to much on the front-end.
Really this update was about getting the portal running on the COVE API so that we could build the new, super-fast COVE Admin Tool.

Again, when this new portal goes live you will not have to change your workflow. The Legacy COVE Admin Tool will continue to work and you will to be able to publish and manage your videos and update your program stacks as you do right now. The only difference will be that you won't be able to update your Program Pages. The new COVE Admin Tool will exist in parallel with the legacy Admin Tool and PBS will work to quickly on-board producers from the old system into the new one.

Please continue to check this blog for all the latest updates on the COVE 2.0 launch. (Our email notification is currently down)

COVE 2.0 Launch update

The potential launch date for COVE 2.0 has now been pushed back to Wednesday, November 9th, 2011. This is now the earliest the new PBS Video portal and COVE Admin Tool could  go live.

We have also been notified that at launch there will be an increase in publishing time for producers who continue to publish through the Legacy COVE Admin. This is because the Legacy system communicates with the new API-powered portal in a new manner that requires caching for optimum performance.

When COVE 2.0 launches producers may experience publishing times of up to 80 minutes. That is the maximum amount of time it could take from the point at which you click the "Publish" button to the time when your video is available in the portal and the Partner Player. That 80-minute maximum will only occur if you publish immediately after the cache has cleared. Most producers will publish sometime in between cache refreshes and will thus experience much shorter publishing times.

The caches have been set so that only the most reliable version of the products (portal and Admin Tool) are pushed to production. Immediately following launch though our developers will begin to work to reduce those cache times. This means in the weeks following the launch you will likely experience a reduction in that maximum window of 80 minutes.

Our goal is to get the publishing time as low as possible but that will depend on how the system performs. Because some caching will always be required it is unlikely that the Legacy COVE Admin Tool will return to its current 5-10 minute publishing time.

Publishing in the new COVE Admin Tool will be extremely fast. That system will have the 5-minute publishing we currently enjoy today as well as significantly shorter times for updating stacks and program page. Most importantly you will be able to access your videos' metadata in mere seconds in the new COVE Admin Tool instead of the 15+ minutes some producers currently struggle with.

We know that this is going to be a resource burden to our producers which is why we will be moving as quickly as possible after launch to migrate you into the new COVE Admin Tool. We appreciate your patience and collaboration as we work to get everybody on-boarded and realizing the efficiencies of the new system.

Please keep your eye on this blog for all the latest updates on the COVE 2.0 launch and as always don't hesitate to contact your program manager if you have any questions or concerns.