How much does PBS pay you for each episode? This question is always near the top of the FAQ list. People assume that if you have a show on PBS, they are paying you for it. Not exactly…
Here’s a crash course on how funding Passport to Adventure, on public television works.
I am an independent producer, meaning I raise the money and pull together the team to create the program. The bad news is raising money is TOUGH, the good news – I retain all control and rights to the program. (I also host, write, plan the shoots, oversee the editing, and handle all of the distribution and marketing of the series – good thing I love what I do!)
To cover costs and pay myself, I have to interest a few companies in underwriting the series on PBS. As an underwriter, companies get a “credit” at the beginning and end of each episode, in all airings on PBS. When it says, “this program is made possible by XYZ Company”, we mean it! Without these sponsors, programs like Passport to Adventure would not be on the air. The most difficult aspect of this funding model is, that it requires producers to compete in the advertising sales arena, with a huge handicap – FCC regulations severely limit what a credit spot can say on non-commercial TV. These restrictions, and the PBS independent station structure, make it challenging to convince a company to spend their dollars with us instead of on a commercial TV advertising package. One of our biggest selling points is that you, the PBS viewers, value a company’s support of quality, non-commercial TV programming, and therefore will buy their products!
So, the reality is, Passport to Adventure is truly a labor of love, an outpouring of passion for something we believe in. We all make a living, but we could make a lot more doing something else.
To make this endeavor financially viable, there are three avenues – get sponsors, creatively piece together small revenue sources – website/blog monetization, international sales, retail products, etc, OR, have large trust fund. Unfortunately, there’s no trust fund in my past, or future, so I rely on creativity and perseverance!
Live small, Travel BIG!