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PBS Launching 4 New Digital Original Series

PBS is expanding its digital-video footprint, announcing four new series bowing on YouTube and other platforms that will join its current lineup of 30-plus original shows.

Two of the new shows are launching today on the PBS Digital Studios’ YouTube network, both produced in partnership with Magnet Media: “Bongo Bongo,” about the history of English-language words; and “Food Buzz,” covering the latest news in the food blogosphere and the history, science and psychology behind a variety of food memes.

Later this year, PBS Digital Studios will debut “Frankenstein, M.D.,” a scripted series from Pemberley Digital, and “Pancake Mountain,” a reboot of the kids’ musical variety public-access show that featured more than 150 popular music artists.

The pubcaster presented the new shows and highlighted its existing lineup for advertisers at its first Digital Content NewFronts presentation Monday at Manhattan’s Hudson Theatre.

“Expanding onto digital platforms has opened up new and exciting ways for PBS and our member stations to fulfill our mission of using the power of media to educate, engage and inspire the American people,” PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger said in a statement. “Through PBS Digital Studios, we are able to reach even more Americans with smart, original content that engages people’s curiosity about the world around them.”

PBS Digital Studios, launched in 2012, has more than 1 million subscribers on YouTube and has generated 75 million views. The shows, available on YouTube, Roku, Xbox, Apple TV and PBS.org, average more than 5 million streams each month.

Other PBS Digital Studios series include the “PBS Idea Channel” hosted by Mike Rugnetta; “Blank on Blank,” which animates lost interviews from cultural icons such as Grace Kelly, John Lennon and Tupac Shakur; and science show “It’s Okay to Be Smart.” PBS Digital Studios also includes more than a dozen co-productions with PBS member stations across the U.S.

Here are descriptions of the new PBS digital series:

“Frankenstein M.D.”: The pubcaster’s first scripted digital series, based on Mary Shelley’s cult classic, is exec produced by Emmy Award winner Bernie Su. Series follows eccentric prodigy Victoria Frankenstein through her medical experiments, with eight episodes to roll out each month.

“Pancake Mountain”: Musical variety show for kids and parents, created by filmmaker Scott Stuckey, will launch this summer with a new episode weekly.

“Bongo Bongo”: Comedian-writer Ethan Fixell hosts, with debut episode tackling the root of the word “rant” and looking at some of the most memorable rants in celebrity, sports and politics. Produced in association with Magnet Media.

“Food Buzz”: Host Chris Hauselt explores hot-sauce phenom sriracha in premiere episode; new segments will debut weekly. Also from Magnet Media.

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