PBS aims for techies with online NerdTV

Pubcaster skein to be posted on Sept. 6

NEW YORK — PBS has commissioned a series it hopes will be downloaded, swapped and distributed online: NerdTV.

Billed as broadcast’s “first entirely downloadable series,” skein will be hosted by tech columnist Robert X. Cringely and will feature interviews with PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, original Mac programmer Andy Hertzfeld and Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy.

The first episode will be posted at pbs.org Sept. 6; 13 shows will be made available on a weekly basis after the launch date.

PBS hopes to tap a techie audience more likely to watch the shows online than on television.

“NerdTV will have an uninterrupted hour with the smartest, funniest and sometimes nerdiest people in high tech,” said Cringely, author of “Accidental Empires: How the Boys of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions, Battle Foreign Competition and Still Can’t Get a Date.”

PBS is distributing the shows under a Creative Commons license, which allows anyone to use the content in any fashion, with the exception that they must link back to the source that has a message from the underwriter.

“If viewers like what they see, they can redistribute the shows or even edit their own non-commercial version,” said PBS senior veep Cindy Johanson.

While many nets offer streaming versions of shows, downloads get expensive due to constraints imposed by the various guilds involved.

NerdTV will be created without guild employees — there will be no writer, producer or copyrighted music.

Each show will cost the net just a few thousand dollars, which the net hops will be covered by underwriters.

PBS execs are eager to see how people use the show once it is made available.

“It’s a cost-effective model that will inform how we do programming in the future,” said Johanson.

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