What Happened to PBS Documentaries on Netflix?

what happened to pbs documentaries on netflix

Over the past year, we’ve seen numerous PBS documentaries depart from Netflix but if you’re wondering why we finally know the answer. Here are all the PBS docs that have left so far, if there’s any left to leave and where they are now. 

Netflix has always had a cycling PBS library with updates typically coming in every June such as the two big ones in 2014 and 2016.

However, over the past year, we’ve seen numerous collections of PBS documentaries leave Netflix (although have been replaced but on the whole, more has left than arrived).

These include:

  • Ken Burns library of titles removed in February 2020 – 4 series in total (another left later in the year)
  • BBC Earth / PBS documentary co-productions were removed back in March 2020 – 14 titles in total.
  • NOVA Season 45 was removed in July 2020 but Netflix has failed to pick up season 46 – 20 titles in total.

As we mentioned above, not all PBS documentaries have departed.

Netflix does still house a number of PBS documentaries including most recently they picked up “College Behind Bars” by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. It also holds PBS’s American Experience – Woodstock. Beyond those, PBS documentaries have all but vanished from Netflix.


Why are PBS documentaries leaving?

Well, it’s because PBS is moving into streaming, something the majority of content providers that have provided Netflix with content have begun doing.

We finally got news of where these removed documentaries would end up thanks to the launch of PBS Documentaries Channel on Amazon Prime.

In a press release to CCN, PBS describes the new channel as a “natural addition to our current streaming offering on Prime Video Channels,”. It launches with far more content than what Netflix has streamed from PBS in recent years.

The new channel will set you back $3.99. If you’d prefer not to use Amazon, many of the documentaries can also be found on PBS’s Passport service.

This, unfortunately, is a familiar tale with the proliferation of streaming service which gives you more choice but means you’ll need to fork over more cash.

Do you miss PBS documentaries from Netflix? Let us know in the comments.