An illustration of a family watching TV in shades of blue. The viewer looks on from behind the family on a couch. From left to right, there are depictions of the back of the heads of a cat, a man, a woman and a girl.

Why can’t I find the program I want to watch online?

While Iowa PBS and PBS both work to offer as much content as possible via streaming, you may have noticed that some shows are either only available for a limited amount of time, or not available at, or via the PBS App at all.

First, it’s important to understand that any program or piece of television is a piece of intellectual property (just like a song or a book). With any piece of intellectual property come certain rights and allowances for the creators, distributors and consumers. Many of these rights include online video viewing stipulations, and these rights vary from show to show. If a program is not available for viewing on, or the PBS App, it is because of the specific intellectual property rights associated with that show.

We must negotiate or purchase streaming rights separately from television broadcast rights and we are not always able to obtain the streaming rights for every program. In some cases, the filmmaker or distributor is offering the program online on another platform. In other situations, a program’s creator or distributor will only allow a program to be streamed for a limited amount of time and then we have to take it down. And, unfortunately, sometimes we’re unable to secure any on-demand or streaming rights for a program at all leaving us unable to feature it online.

You may have also noticed show pages on or the PBS App where full episodes are unavailable for streaming but clips and previews are still listed. PBS does continue to offer clips and previews for some programs because they are not as restricted as full episodes, and sometimes viewers are still interested in watching those clips and previews.