NewTeeVee Live: PBS Is Not Just Your Grandma’s Network

PBS isn’t just about Antique Roadshow anymore, PBS Interactive SVP Jason Seiken told the audience at our NewTeeVee Live conference today. But he’s the first to admit that PBS isn’t really the hippest brand around. The average age of PBS television viewers is “pushing 60,” he estimated. Consider that countless Elmo-addicted toddlers actually bring that age way down, and you start to understand that PBS has a bit of an age issue.

That’s a problem that the network wants to solve with an online video platform it launched this spring, and Seiken was happy to report that these efforts are starting to pay off. Forty-eight percent of PBS Video visitors are under 35, he said, and the youngsters seem to dig PBS programming as well. Viewers tune into a stream for 26 minutes on average, which is far longer than many commercial platforms. PBS is clocking 12 million uniques a month for its video site, and video views are growing 80 percent month to month.

One of the more interesting aspects of the site is that it’s also a content repository for PBS’ 357 local member stations. These stations can take shows like Frontline or NOVA and combine them on their own sites with small-town news and other local programming. PBS wants to make this relationship a two-way street next year with the launch of the site’s next version, which will automatically syndicate locally produced content and present it to a national audience.

So what’s the secret of the site’s success? Failure, actually. Seiken said that performance reviews at PBS Interactive now track the times an employee failed at their job, with the goal being not to punish, but to reward failed experiments. “Our engineers actually really love this,” said Seiken.

Do liberal blogs deserve credit for Lou Dobbs’ downfall?

When listing the accomplishments of the conservative blogger, the fall of Dan Rather seems so far to be their crowning achievement. Greg Sargent at the Washington Post wonders if lefty blogs deserve similar credit for Lou Dobbs’ resignation, seeing as they provided a constant drumbeat for his firing, systematically and tediously reporting his more outlandish and inaccurate statements.

The only difference, of course, is that the right blogosphere was able to seize upon one particularly large error while the left had to settle for a series of incremental ones, making credit harder to assign. While they certainly lobbed quite a few stones, the right was able to use a catapult to bring down the entire fortress wall in one fell swoop.

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Who’s Watching What on YouTube? See for Yourself.

If you’re someone who gets paid to market to people who use YouTube, there’s a good chance you already know about TestTube, the site’s suite of experimental services. The rest of us will find interesting novelties, like “Insights for Audience”: A nifty way to find out what people like–or unlike–you are watching.

The tool has been around for a while, and got a formal roll out earlier this fall, but Google (GOOG) product manager Nick Jacobi just showed it off to the chattering (and Tweeting) classes gathered at the Monaco Media Forum, so it’s going to get another burst of attention. (Also of interest, apparently: A dustup between Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner and Arianna Huffington. Looking forward to watching that.)

Anyway, the Insights tool is self-explanatory and entertaining, at the very least. For instance, I used it to find out what 35-44 year-old males who like advertising, beer and football (ahem) are watching, and got this results page.

youtube mosaic

The most interesting part is a mosaic of videos that demographic is watching, which includes some obvious stuff, like “Amazing NFL Football Catches,” and some really obscure stuff, like an episode of “Shazam.” I also found this Kirby Puckett tribute, which pleased me to no end: