If you’re looking for the correct channel for PBS on Spectrum, we’ve got the answers. Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is a commercial-free, non-profit, member-subsidized, content-creation television corporation. PBS has member stations all across the country. Member stations create and broadcast content locally, and larger member stations generate content that is shared nationwide. PBS content is focused on children, education, culture, nature, public affairs, and history.
As a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, PBS aims to share its content with as many television viewers as possible. The goal of PBS is not to make billions of dollars. You’ll find PBS content available on many Spectrum channels throughout the country.
When Spectrum lacks a local PBS channel, ample streaming platforms allow you to view content such as NOVA, This Old House, Downton Abby, Frontline, American Experience, Mr. Rogers, or America’s Test Kitchen.
Let’s look at the specific viewing channels for your city and state on Spectrum.
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PBS Channel Guide on Spectrum
Cable television premium channels, like HBO, provide the exact same content to all locations. There isn’t a “local” programming variation. PBS is similar to a local television station in that it has some degree of control over the broadcast timing of local programming that augments national programming that airs on predetermined days and times. Local PBS stations may also carry their own “local” programming.
The PBS channels on Spectrum vary depending on where you’re watching in the country.
We’ve created an alphabetized listing of PBS stations broadcast on Spectrum based on the city and town. If Spectrum doesn’t carry PBS in your location, there are other options to view PBS.
A – G
|El Paso, TX
|Ft. Worth, TX
H – Z
|11, 90, 443, 1010
|Los Angeles, CA
|New York, NY
|1221, 1275, 1276, 1277
|St. Louis, MO
|183, 184, 185, 709, 710
|San Diego, CA
|San Jose, CA
|3, 65, 605, 616, 617, 1023,
The History of PBS
In the early days of television, educational programming wasn’t incredibly popular for television stations. Television stations wanted educational programming, but the cost of creating the show and the decrease in advertisement revenue were too high. Local stations stopped carrying educational television.
TV Before PBS
The goal of commercial television is to make a profit. Television stations can charge more for advertising if viewers watch a show. Television stations can’t charge high advertising rates if a program has a small audience. Educational television draws a much smaller audience than NFL Sunday Night Football.
In the 1950s and 1960s, local television stations attempted to develop educational programs. The lack of a (commercially) valuable audience makes stations unable and unwilling to commit development funds large enough to create quality programs that viewers are willing to watch. Viewers expect highly produced content from educational programs, just like the content from the major (NBC, CBS, ABC) television networks. Local television stations can’t meet this expectation without spending more money to produce the program than the program will earn in revenue.
The Carnegie Corporation, Ford Foundation, and locally owned TV stations lobbied Congress to provide funding for public broadcasting. In 1967, Congress passed the Public Broadcasting Act.
The Act creates the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a board of directors that distributes funds to public television and radio stations. The funding aids in developing programming for underrepresented audiences, specifically minorities and children. In 1969, the CPB created PBS.
Early PBS Programming
The early days of PBS saw success with programs like Sesame Street, Washington Week in Review, The French Chef (WGBH – Boston, Massachusetts), Mr. Rogers Neighboorhood (WQED-Pitsburg PA), Great Performances, NOVA (WGBH – Boston, Massachusetts) and American Masters, (WNET – Newark, New Jersey). Many different TV stations from across the country produced, filmed, edited, and distributed content.
The challenge in 1968 is the same as today: find programs that consumers will watch weekly. PBS programs have something to appeal to a wide swath of TV viewers. You may only like some shows on PBS, but there’s bound to be some content on PBS that’s appealing to you.
Since PBS isn’t a commercial TV station, they’re driven by what the public wants, not what the advertisers want you to view. If a program isn’t well-received by the local viewer, the TV station stops showing the program. The local community determines what content is shown on the local PBS station.
Advertisers don’t fund the programming on PBS, so let’s look at how PBS stations pay the bills and keep the lights on.
How is PBS Funded?
PBS is different from other networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX) because it’s owned by the public, not a company or corporation. This means that the programs shown on PBS need to benefit the viewers, not primarily to make money for the company.
Membership accounts for 29% of PBS funding. If you’ve tuned into PBS during a membership drive, you know what this is all about. Each station has an annual membership drive. Viewers pledge one-off, monthly, or yearly cash pledges. (The stations pick an outstanding program or movie to interrupt with funding requests.)
Distribution accounts for 27% of PBS funding. Local television stations, like WGBH, create content that all member stations carry. Member stations pay the content creation station when they broadcast a program the others wrote, produced, filmed, edited, and distributed.
The content creation and payment method differs from traditional television programming, where the network creates content, and the local stations pay a fee back to the network to run the program with local advertising.
The ABC Network may have a few locations nationwide where they create and produce programs, like New York or California. PBS has approximately 350 stations spread across the country. Content can be created and distributed to other PBS member stations from any of these locations.
If you’ve watched a few PBS shows, you may be familiar with underwriting. Companies pay fees to PBS to support a program. In exchange for the funding, the program will briefly acknowledge the payment at the beginning and end of the program. The advertisements allow the viewers to associate a company (not a specific product) with a program. One of the This Old House underwriters is The Home Depot. Underwriting accounts for 20% of PBS funding.
CPB and Federal
The Federal, State, and CPB support of PBS only accounts for roughly 15% of PBS annual funding. That breaks down to approximately $1.50 in taxes per U.S. household. Using tax dollars to fund PBS is an increasingly hot-button topic. Currently, 14 red and blue states don’t fund PBS.
The remainder of PBS funding is supplied through businesses (12%), foundations (10%), universities (8%), and public broadcasters (4%).
PBS has one “primary” channel and three substations. You may find that your local market has additional PBS channels and dedicated radio stations that broadcast on Spectrum.
Let’s look at the primary channel and the substations: PBS, PBS World, PBS Kids, and Create.
You’ll find the “blockbuster” PBS shows on the PBS channel. The primary objective of the PBS channel is to inspire, educate, and entertain the American public.
The channel’s demographics tend to mirror the demographics of the local community. On a national level, a PBS viewer is most likely a white, homeowning woman in her 30s or 40s with a child at home. PBS viewers tend to be highly educated and almost 45% more likely to have a doctorate than viewers of non-public television. Programs like Frontline and NOVA cater to the channel’s educated consumers.
The PBS World Channel carries worldwide news, documentaries, and informational programs. The objective of the channel is to break down complex topics, such as cultures, conflicts, and movements, into understandable and relatable content.
The PBS World Channel may not be available in all areas, but it is available on a laptop, desktop, tablet, Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.
The PBS Kids channel aims to provide curriculum-based programming that entertains and educates children. Parents overwhelmingly believe that PBS Kids is a trusted and safe content source for digital games, mobile applications, and television programs. Parents believe that PBS Kids prepares their children for educational success.
The PBS Kids channel is both a streaming channel and a PBS Kids Prime Video Channel channel that’s available through a subscription to Amazon or Apple TV. The free streaming channel has a live feed and video on demand.
PBS Create is all about learning how to do it yourself. Learn how to cook, clean, and work on your home. Flagship programs like America’s Test Kitchen, Ask This Old House, American Woodshop, Burte Wolfe, Baby Makes Three, Afro-Latino Travels with Kim Haas, Baking with Julia, and Best of the Joy of Painting will engage your mind and teach you a few new tricks.
You’ll find member station content from all over the country. Tennessee Crossroads covers local artisans and places to visit in Tennessee, from a birding park, creamery, and distillery, to a BBQ joint. Let’s Go Minnesota is all about outdoor recreation. Whatever your geographic location, there’s a local show that suits your neck of the woods.
PBS Channel Programming
PBS stations have a vast rate of content that falls into several categories.
PBS is no slouch when it comes to long-running animated weekly series. While the weekly animated series Arthur didn’t quite make it to The Simpsons’ 34-year and counting run, 25 seasons is nothing to sneeze at. Thomas & Friends, Wild Kratts, Word Girl, Builder the Bob, and Curious George are just a few titles available from the past several decades of content.
Don’t let anyone tell you that PBS hasn’t dabbled in reality TV. The best reality shows (in our opinion) from PBS focus on living in a specific period. The Frontier House, Texas Ranch House, 1900 House, and Colonial House are outstanding.
Stepping away from period timepieces, you’ll discover Legacy List with Matt Paxton, Time Warriors, and That’ll Teach ‘Em.
Far and away, Antiques Roadshow is PBS’s most popular reality TV show. Now entering its 28th season, it’s a juggernaut of success for PBS. The traveling show moves around the country each year. Regular folks bring in their antiques and antique experts appraise them on the spot. Dreams are made and hopes are crushed in each episode.
News and Public Affairs
PBS is the most trusted media organization in America. Respected news programs like PBS Newshour, Washington Week, Bloomberg’s Wall Street Week, and PBS News Weekend keep us informed throughout the week.
Frontline, a weekly news program in the form of a documentary, explores topics that require more than a sound bite. Frontline covers politics, health, business, social issues, and war.
Science and Nature
Hands down, NOVA is one of the best programs on television. Now entering its 50th season, NOVA is a weekly program exploring big questions. In what way will technology change our lives? How did our ancestors live? In recent episodes, NOVA explores parallel universes, the London Tunnel, and peers inside China’s technology boom.
Nature is a natural history program that brings the outdoors into your living room with eye-popping views of the natural world. A new season is approaching and will kick off with a program on Salamanders of the Gods and Canine Conservationists.
Home and How-To
Most of us didn’t have someone to teach us how to replace a toilet, install a new electrical outlet, tend a garden, paint a wall, or live in the country. Enter PBS How-to programs.
PBS has so many good programs for free that will help you learn to take care of yourself and those around you. Ask This Old House, The Woodright’s Shop, This Old House, Backyard Farmer, and Rustic Living stand out.
Motorweek is a weekly series that provides automotive-featured content, car news, and new car and truck reviews. Motorweek has been on the air for 43 seasons. The 2024 Jeep Wrangler and 2024 Ford Mustang are the latest reviews on Motorweek.
Who doesn’t love food? We can blame our fixation on all things related to food preparation on Julia Childs. Julia and PBS have forever changed the way we approach cooking.
Today, you’ll find a wide variety of food programs on PBS, including Baking With Julia, Martha Stewart’s Baking School, and Rick Bayless – Mexico One Plate at a Time.
PBS has countless regional cooking programs: A Taste of Louisianna, The Houston Cookbook, Taste of Malaysia, Somewhere South, Taco Mafia, Undiscovered Haiti, Around the Farmtable, and Carolina Cooking. PBS serves up plenty, no matter what kind of cooking you’re looking for.