A Media Buyer’s Guide to Evaluating Public TV Lifestyle Programs

Media buyers, look to this guide to learn how to evaluate which public television lifestyle programs are best for your brand’s marketing goals.

As media buyers, you get pitched a lot of different advertising and sponsorship opportunities from public television, and it is crucial that you accurately evaluate them to identify the best opportunities for your brand. This guide will help you navigate the world of public television programming, so you can make informed decisions for your clients when evaluating and sponsoring public television’s weekend lifestyle programs.

What is Lifestyle Programming on Public Television?

In addition to weekly primetime and kids programs that air on PBS & PBS KIDS, public television also offers a variety of weekend lifestyle programs that allow your brand to connect with its target audience. These programs cover popular themes such as cooking, DIY/how-to, and travel shows and typically air on Saturdays and Sundays. 

Understanding the Public Television Landscape

People generally think of the entire public television system as “PBS.” However, The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is not a network (like NBC or FOX) but rather a member-based association consisting of 350+ stations that receive content from various sources. While PBS is the largest distributor of public television programming and provides a lot of the primetime and children’s programming, the weekend lifestyle programs are typically distributed by other providers like American Public Television (APT), NETA (National Educational Telecommunications Association), and ITVS (Independent Television Service). 

You can think of this as similar to syndication: while the main source of a public television station’s content is PBS, they also air “syndicated” lifestyle content from other providers, typically on the weekend, at the discretion of the local station. If you purchase a sponsorship of these programs, you will be working with the producer and distributor, and not PBS.

The Media Buyer’s Checklist for Evaluating Lifestyle Programs

To determine if a specific lifestyle program is right for your brand, consider asking the following questions to the program’s producer or sales representative:

  1. Is this program currently on the air? If so:
    a. Who is the distributor?
    b. What is the coverage of US TV households and the source of this information?
    c. How many primary PBS channels carry the program? How many are in the top markets?
    d. What ratings are available for this series and their source?
    e. When does the series air (day/daypart)?
  2. If the program is not currently on air, inquire about:
    a. The program’s distributor
    b. Whether the series will air regardless of corporate funders
    c. The funding required to greenlight the program
    d. Existing or committed corporate sponsors and foundations
    e. The producer’s track record and past programs they have produced. What type of sponsors did they have for that series?

Popular Lifestyle Series Available for Corporate Sponsorship

Some examples of lifestyle programs on PBS include:

  1. Born to Explore:
    • Reach travel enthusiasts on this trip across the globe. Host Richard Wiese takes viewers around the world in search of adventure, wildlife, and cultures untouched by modern civilization.
  2. Classic Woodworking:
    • Connect with a passionate audience of DIY enthusiasts. Master craftsman Tom McLaughlin shares easy-to-follow projects for woodworkers at every skill level. 
  3. Lidia’s Kitchen:
    • Align your brand with a captivated culinary audience. Emmy-winning TV host Lidia Bastianich provides a culinary masterclass, sharing her expertise and delicious recipes with her loyal viewers. 
  4. Simply Ming:
    • Position your brand among a captivated audience of at-home cooks. Taking weekday cooking to a whole new level, this series stars the award-winning chef Ming Tsai and he whips up his signature East-meets-West recipes. 

By understanding the way lifestyle programs on public television work, and asking the right questions, you can make informed decisions when evaluating what lifestyle programs your brand might want to sponsor. 

The Sponsorship Group for Public Television represents some of the top lifestyle programs on public television. Take advantage of the opportunity to reach your target audience effectively and showcase your brand on public television! Contact us to get started.


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