Streaming Public television will now cost you?

So, I logged into the PBS app on my streaming device and was surprised to see that the vast majority of content is now behind a paywall. Viewing most episodes of Nature, Nova, and the like requires a “donation” of at least $5 a month! Upon receipt of the… freewill donation, the content becomes available for streaming.

Now, there’s still some content that does not require money changing hands, but let’s just say it’s probably not going to be any of their most popular offerings…

Am I overreacting? Is it right for PBS to stand up for itself and demand compensation for this completely voluntary service? Or are they waaay off-base for charging for content that is (at least partially) taxpayer-funded?

Lastly, is this even compatible with PBS’s mission to provide educational and cultural programming to citizens who might not otherwise be exposed to it? Is the future of public television going to be BigBirdflix?

Someone has to pay for it, the feds are getting out of the business of doing that.

No, they aren’t.

Well, the programming is free, if you watch it on TV. Presumably they view the streaming service as an extra that can be offered as an incentive to donate. As for your Big Bird joke, as it happens HBO signed a deal with Sesame Workshop, which produces Sesame Street, to air episodes first on HBO and only months later on public television.

Radio-Canada/CBC is publicly funded and has been running advertisements on their TV channels for decades (no fundraisers or donation boxes, though). Radio-Canada, the French-language side, has a streaming site, and started charging for the premium level (more shows, more back episodes, some streaming-only shows) a few years ago.