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New PBS deal could shake up video streaming market for schools

By Meris Stansbury, Online Editor
May 18th, 2012

SAFARI will be adding 300 PBS programs and series to its digital platform, on top of the 650 it currently offers.

A new agreement between the Public Broadcasting Service and SAFARI Montage will make SAFARI the main provider of national PBS video content streamed to schools—an arrangement that could shake up the market for school video streaming services.

In the figurative arena of content distribution, it seems that SAFARI Montage—a K-12 digital media management and distribution solution—has been taking no prisoners, as evidenced by the company’s announcement of a deal with PBS to provide hundreds of additional PBS videos. The deal also reportedly terminates PBS’ national contracts with other major players such as Discovery Education and Learn360.

Building on a working relationship that dates back nearly 25 years and has encompassed now-obsolete technologies such as VHS and Beta tapes, SAFARI and PBS have struck an agreement that not only renews their current contract, but expands it to include hundreds of new titles—and makes SAFARI Montage the primary major commercial digital distributor of PBS’ library of full-length programs to schools nationwide.

“[We] have always known [PBS] to be very committed to pre-K-12 education,” said Andrew Schlessinger, CEO and co-founder of SAFARI Montage. “They are a content provider that has been a clear force in the classroom, and we’re honored to be their partner in U.S. K-12 education.”

“We have [officially partnered] with SAFARI for nearly a decade and have greatly appreciated the excellent service they provide to educators,” said Alicia Levi, vice president of education for PBS Distribution. “In addition, we are proud to grow our partnership with a company that shares our commitment to engaging students and teachers with tools specifically crafted for innovative, 21st-century learning.”

The new deal, which begins July 1, adds 300 PBS programs and series to SAFARI’s digital platform, on top of the 650 PBS titles that SAFARI currently offers. The company also will be adding more PBS content later this year as a result of the agreement.

All of the 650 PBS titles are included in SAFARI’s core content package, except one series, Eyes on the Prize, the definitive civil rights era documentary, which will be included in the core content package as of July 1. New offerings being added to SAFARI during 2012 include American Experience: “Clinton,” NOVA, and Ken Burns’ Prohibition, as well as Design Squad, Martha Speaks, and Super Why! (For a full list of titles, click here.)

According to PBS, educators will have access to each program in its entirety as it was originally broadcast. On average, the general-audience programs are 60 minutes per episode, and PBS KIDS programs are approximately 30 minutes per episode.  Program topics include everything from history, science, and the arts to math and literacy—all from PBS’ series and producers.

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