Why Won’t Anybody Buy Masterpiece Theatre?

Corporate funding for PBS’ Masterpiece Theatre ended last year, but try as they might, PBS has been unable to find a new sponsor. “Since Masterpiece debuted in 1971, ExxonMobil had been its sole underwriter. PBS is picking up the tab for two more seasons, but at half the previous budget. That translates to about seven titles over 20 Sundays this season – half the output of previous years. A co-production with the BBC, Masterpiece has a core audience of “highly educated, higher-income” women over 50, says a rep for the program. Though that’s not the most prized demographic, PBS president Pat Mitchell can’t understand why the network’s crown jewel is such a tough sell.”