Documentary clears big numbers on PBS

Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope reaches 95% coverage


Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope reached big numbers during its debut broadcast on PBS.  According to reports from De Shields Associates, the documentary cleared 95.956% national coverage, with 1,063 total broadcasts.

The film was distributed to the PBS member stations during a scheduled network time slot.  While many stations aired the film at that time, some stations scheduled the documentary during other time slots on their local schedule.

The documentary cleared:

  • 25 of the top 25 media markets
  • 46 of the top 50 markets
  • 95 of the top 100 markets.

The total number of airings also included five separate broadcasts scheduled on the World Channel, a subscription digital broadcast service used by 155 stations covering more than half the country.

“Because individual stations create their own program schedule, it is challenging for independent documentary films to gain wide spread coverage,” said Dan Cohen, director of Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope. “We had to coordinate carefully with a huge number of individual programmers across the country.  We did this by putting together a marketing model involving four separate promotion companies assigned to not only reach out to public television stations, but also focus on building a viewing audience at the same time.”

While one company worked with individual stations, another worked with traditional media to gain press coverage and reviews in advance of the network broadcast.  A third company concentrated on social media with a specific targeted plan using the film’s Facebook page, and Twitter account.  In the final days before airing, a fourth promotion company coordinated and promoted a “Radio Media Tour” involving the filmmakers and special guest, Astronaut Mike Massimino.  “The radio tour was a morning drive-time interview marathon across the country, as we hopped from one station to another during live interviews with radio hosts.  It was great fun and a real success,” Cohen said, “we were live in a number of big markets.”

Layered in an uplifting story, the documentary chronicles the path of an artifact from the depths of the Holocaust, to the heights of space, as it is carried to orbit aboard the space shuttle Columbia by Astronaut Ilan Ramon, Israel’s first Astronaut. The story weaves the lives of three men who were born in different times in history, but whose stories are brought together by a twist of fate.

In addition to the PBS airing, the documentary has won five "Best Film" honors in festivals in the U.S. and Hong Kong.

PBS will air Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope periodically over the next three years. It is available for live streaming on the PBS web site. It can also be found on Netflix,  iTunes, Amazon and Best Buy. The music from the film is also available on iTunes.

Visit the documentary web site


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