PBS offers fantastic content for all age groups. There are programs for children, sports, theater, science, documentaries and much more. No wonder it’s the favorite channel for many American families!
But, can those who do not have cable also enjoy the educational content that is broadcast on this channel? You are in the right place if you want to find the answer.
Is there any free option?
If you have decided to cut the cord, you may be afraid of losing your favorite channel. But do not worry! Not only can you keep it, but you can get it for free. In fact, there are several ways to watch PBS without paying.
As PBS states on its official website, general audience content is available to station members, while PBS Kids content remains free on different platforms such as the PBS Kids Video app.
These are your options if you want to watch other PBS content for free.
Over the air (OTA)
One option is of course to use an antenna. Does this sound like an outdated way of watching TV? It may be so. But an antenna will let you watch PBS for free. Installation is not complicated at all, and you can choose some cable TV channels, including PBS, over the air (OTA) for free.
The only thing you won’t like is the cost of the antenna. Still, it’s usually equal to a month’s subscription to the streaming service. After this initial investment, you can watch any over-the-air TV channel without paying a huge bill. Make sure you pick the right antenna and you’re ready to pop some popcorn and sit in front of your TV.
Depending on your region, you’ll likely get PBS Prime, PBS Kids, Create, World, and MHz Worldview. The antenna is also the only way to watch live PBS content, as the streaming services that carry this channel only offer the most recent and archived episodes.
Another way to watch PBS content for free is to visit their website. Not all shows are available all the time, but you can watch multiple episodes of different shows for a while after they air. You can’t watch live content, but on-demand episodes are good enough, right? Some shows will appear on the Available Videos page, but some require you to be a PBS member. Programs that require membership are marked with a white and blue icon.
You have two ways to become a member if you want access to all programs all the time. You can pay at least $60 one time or pay $5 monthly, so it’s up to you to figure out what’s worth it in your case. If you are only going to watch the channel for a few months, the second option is more affordable. However, these payments are more like donations since PBS is a non-profit organization. In reality, you are helping them continue their work and you are not paying for a service.
PBS Video App
The PBS Video app allows you to watch this channel’s content for free and is perfect for those who are always on the go. It is compatible with almost all platforms such as Roku, Android and iOS devices, Apple TV and more.
To use the app on your iOS or Android tablet or smartphone, you don’t even need to activate it. Simply log in or sign up with your Facebook or Google credentials, or your PBS account. For other devices, like Amazon Fire TV or Roku, visit the www.pbs.org/pbs-video-app/ to activate the application.
And with PBS Passport, you earn even more. If you’re a member of the station, this added benefit allows you to stream even more shows online. There are over 1,500 episodes of Poldark, Downtown Abbey, Austin City Limits, and other popular PBS content.
What streaming services carry PBS?
PBS shows are available on multiple streaming services: Amazon Prime or Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube TV, and Hulu. However, keep in mind that not all of these services offer all of PBS’s content. You can probably find quite a few episodes hosted on Netflix or Hulu that you can watch on demand, but don’t expect to have access to everything.
How to watch PBS with Amazon Prime or Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video offers content from PBS Kids, PBS Masterpiece, PBS America, and PBS Living. It is compatible with most devices, from Amazon Fire Stick to game consoles. To watch PBS through Amazon Prime Video, you can visit the official Amazon website or use your Amazon device to subscribe to the service.
Prices depend on the channel you choose. PBS Kids will set you back $4.99 per month, PBS Masterpiece is $5.99 per month, while for PBS Living, you need to pay $2.99 per month.
How to watch PBS with YouTube TV
Since February of this year, PBS has also been part of YouTube TV. On this platform, you can watch on-demand episodes of shows like American Experience, Great Performances, Nature, Masterpiece, etc. Your kids will be happy with 24/7 access to PBS Kids and their beloved shows like the iconic Sesame Street. .
To check if your local PBS station supports YouTube TV, visit the official YouTube TV website and enter your zip code. If you’re out of luck, don’t worry, more stations will be added to this streaming platform later this year.
You can watch PBS on YouTube TV through its official website or download the YouTube TV app on your device.
How to watch PBS on different devices
A wide variety of devices support PBS in some way. This is how you can watch this channel on different devices.
Android and iOS devices
You can stream PBS content through web browsers if you have an Android tablet or iPhone. Still, it’s probably much more convenient to download the app and enjoy all your favorite episodes this way. Visit the Google Play Store or App Store, install the app and sign in. No activation needed – it’s ready to watch.
Watching PBS on Apple TV requires activation. However, it is done in a few simple steps:
- Turn on your Apple TV and download the app. You will receive an activation code, so do not leave the screen because you will need it.
- On your computer or phone, launch a web browser and go to pbs.org/activar.
- You’ll see a box where you’ll need to enter the TV code.
- Click Continue to finish the process.
Note that if you have Passport membership, you must first sign out of your account or deactivate it, depending on the model of Apple TV you have. Follow the steps outlined above, enter the code you see on the screen, and use the same account to log back in. You will see an updated list of videos that you can watch.
Amazon Fire TV
PBS shows are also available on Amazon Fire TV. Visit the app store to download the PBS app and you’re all set. Before you start watching, you must activate the device. That’s how:
- Select the PBS app and you will see the Activate Now button on your screen.
- After selecting that button, you will see an activation code.
- Without leaving the screen, take your computer or mobile and visit pbs.org/activar, where you will write the activation code.
- Click Continue and sign in with your Facebook, Google, or PBS account. If you’re a Passport member, be sure to use the same account you used when you first signed up.
Note that this process is the same for some smart TVs, like Samsung, but it only works on 2017-2019 models.
To watch PBS on Roku, you must first add this channel. When you select Streaming Channels or Channel Store, use the search field to find PBS. Choose it, select Add channel, and once downloaded, proceed to activate it.
- Select PBS on your home screen.
- Choose Activate Now.
- Use a computer or mobile phone to open the pbs.org/activar URL and type the activation code you see on the screen.
- Click Continue and on the next screen choose how you want to sign in.
Fun for all the family
You have so many ways to enjoy PBS shows alone or with your family, and they range in price from very affordable to zero. Much more convenient than cable, right? If you’ve given up on cable, it doesn’t mean you should give up Sesame Street or Downtown Abbey. Please continue to watch all of these programs as you see fit.
What method did you choose? Let us know in the comments section.