PBS to Debut New Ken Burns Documentary on iOS Before TV Showing

Posted by at 4:32 am on September 23, 2011

Prohibition, the latest documentary from Public Television filmmakers Ken Burns​ and Lynn Novick, will debut on the PBS app for iOS devices nine days before being shown on television, CNet reports. The first of three parts of the five-and-a-half-hour film will appear today, while it won’t debut on television until Sunday, October 2nd. A 30-minute preview of the movie, along with a question-and-answer session with the filmmakers, is already available on the PBS app and website.

In a further nod to the increasing shift in audiences to online sources, the episodes will stream live on the PBS streaming website simultaneously with the television broadcast. Only the first episode of Prohibition will debut first on the PBS app; the other two parts will appear one day after the TV broadcast, though they will remain available for viewing until October 7th. The film will be available for purchase from iTunes immediately after each part has been broadcast.

Prohibition uses historical photographs, recreations and accounts from the period to re-examine both the societal causes of the campaign that ultimately led to the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920 banning the sale, manufacture and transport of alcohol — as well as life during Prohibition and its eventual repeal in 1933. The stories ties together the rise of U.S. organized crime, the women’s suffrage movement, the Roaring Twenties and the birth of jazz and other historical factors that contributed to both the amendment and its repeal.

Public Broadcasting has recently engaged in several debuts of high-profile shows online via the PBS app to drum up interest in the television broadcast, though this is the first time a Ken Burns documentary has been so featured. PBS Senior Vice President Jason Seiken said PBS app users watched more than 52 million video streams in the last month, including teasers, trailers and full episodes of selected shows available through the app.

Prohibition parts two and three will air on October 3rd and 4th, and be available on the iOS app the day after broadcast. Pricing for the iTunes edition of the film has not been announced

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