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Ken Burns’s THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA’S BEST IDEA Launched National Conversation About Country’s Parks
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- 33.4 Million Viewers of Series; 2.5 Million Page Views of Web Page for September 2009 Premiere -


Los Angeles, CA: PBS/TCA Press Tour; January 13, 2010 -- THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA'S BEST IDEA, directed by Ken Burns and produced by Burns and Dayton Duncan, was the second most-watched limited series on PBS during the last decade (2000-2009), PBS announced today. THE NATIONAL PARKS reached a total audience of 33.4 million viewers who saw some part of the series across its six episodes, which premiered September 27-October 2, 2009, on PBS.

The series earned a 3.5 national HH average audience rating. Across the six original broadcast episodes, the top markets were WNPT-Nashville (4.7 HH rating), KVIE-Sacramento (3.8 HH rating), KRMA-Denver (3.8 HH rating), KCTS-Seattle-Tacoma (3.7 HH rating) and KPBS-San Diego (3.7 HH rating).

THE NATIONAL PARKS was the most-watched show on PBS since the 2007 broadcast of Burns's last film, THE WAR, which attracted a total audience of 37.8 million viewers across its seven episodes in September 2007.

On Wednesdays beginning January 27 and continuing through March 3, 2010, viewers have a second chance to explore the beauty and history of America's national parks with a re-broadcast of the entire series.

Next up on PBS from Ken Burns is THE TENTH INNING, which picks up where BASEBALL left off, following the sport's trajectory from 1992 through 2009. Directed and produced with longtime collaborator Lynn Novick, the film takes viewers onto the field and into the stadiums and locker rooms of America's enduring pastime. Presented against a backdrop of the social and cultural history of America over the last 17 years, THE TENTH INNING unravels the tumultuous times the sport faced during this era, from the players' strike to performance-enhancing drugs. THE TENTH INNING is slated to air in fall 2010 on PBS.

When THE NATIONAL PARKS first aired, it capped off a nearly year-long national conversation about the parks and related themes, with more than 100 public television stations across the country holding events. Additionally, 61 stations received grants to work with nearby parks and other organizations to reach communities that have not historically visited the parks. Activities included screenings, discussions, trips to parks and other hands-on learning experiences; in San Francisco, for instance, where Burns launched the outreach program on behalf of the film last April, KQED and partners created a storytelling and community mapping project; a similar project, "Arkansas State & National Parks Initiative," created by AETNA, encouraged community members to share their experiences and promote conservation and preservation.

In the months leading up to the broadcast, 93 national parks held screenings of THE NATIONAL PARKS: THIS IS AMERICA, a 45-minute film produced by Florentine Films specifically for educational and engagement purposes; the national outreach culminated in a screening in New York City's Central Park that included musical performances by Eric Benet, Gavin DeGraw, Jose Feliciano, Carole King, Alison Krauss and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas, Noel Paul Stookey and Peter Yarrow, and Counting Crows with Augustana. More than 5,000 people attended the event and 45 public television stations held local events with live feeds for members and supporters.

In addition, The National Park Foundation (NPF), one of the film's underwriters and a partner in the outreach initiative, hosted a national day of service and celebration, "National Public Lands Day," at more than 250 park and park partner venues on September 26. Thanks to the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, one of the film's underwriters and a funder of the outreach initiative, the NPF also is investing $1 million in "America's Best Idea Grants" for parks to continue using the film to reach traditionally underserved groups and empower them to create strong, lasting bonds with the national parks.

The film and the national outreach generated strong media interest, with more than 538 million paid-media impressions and appearances by Burns and others on every major network, in every major national and regional publication and in every market visited (along with many others), creating more than 381,000 additional impressions.

THE NATIONAL PARKS had a huge online presence. Its Web site was the most visited program page on during the week of broadcast and had 544,000 unique visitors between September 1 and October 31, with 2.5 million page views in the same period. The program's Facebook fan page boasted more than 50,000 fans by the time of the broadcast. There were more than 185,000 streams of the episodes during the two weeks they were available, making it the most-watched program on the PBS Video Portal during the week of broadcast, with viewers watching on average at least 55 minutes of the full episodes online. In comparison, the average online viewer watches only six minutes per video of content on Hulu. THE NATIONAL PARKS Web site also featured new online fundraising widgets and forms that were a first for PBS and were implemented on station sites across the country.

Since its release on October 6, the DVD set of THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA'S BEST IDEA has been a best-seller at retailers such as Borders, Barnes & Noble, Costco and THE NATIONAL PARKS also launched PBS' first general-audience iPhone application, which highlighted the series, behind-the-scenes information and more. The companion book, written by Dayton Duncan, introduced by Ken Burns and published by Alfred A. Knopf, Burns' longtime publisher, spent seven weeks on The New York Times best-seller list

THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA'S BEST IDEA is a production of Florentine Films and WETA Washington, DC. Director/producer: Ken Burns. Producer/writer: Dayton Duncan. Co-producers: Craig Mellish, Julie Dunfey and David McMahon. Supervising editor: Paul Barnes. Episode editors: Paul Barnes, Erik Ewers and Craig Mellish. Cinematography: Buddy Squires, with Allen Moore, Lincoln Else and Ken Burns. Narrator: Peter Coyote.

Funding is provided by General Motors; Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund; Corporation for Public Broadcasting; The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations; Park Foundation, Inc.; Public Broadcasting Service; National Park Foundation; The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation; The Pew Charitable Trusts; and Bank of America.

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About WETA
WETA Washington, DC, is the third-largest producing station for public television and the flagship public broadcaster in the nation's capital. WETA productions and co-productions include PBS NEWSHOUR, WASHINGTON WEEK WITH GWEN IFILL AND NATIONAL JOURNAL, AMERICA AT A CROSSROADS and IN PERFORMANCE AT THE WHITE HOUSE. Additionally, for more than 20 years, WETA has partnered with filmmaker Ken Burns to bring his landmark documentaries to the nation via public television, including the 2007 film THE WAR. Sharon Percy Rockefeller is president and CEO of WETA. More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at

About PBS
PBS, with its 356 member stations, offers all Americans - from every walk of life - the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each week, PBS reaches more than 124 million people and invites them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; hear diverse viewpoints; and take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS' broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry's most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS' premier children's TV programming and Web site,, are parents' and teachers' most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at, one of the leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet.


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