Each PBS station can only offer its livestream to users in an area designated by PBS, which approves a set of zip codes for each station. These zip codes are approved by PBS based on the station's broadcast area, license type, and FCC designations.
If a viewers attempt to watch the livestream of a PBS station outside of their area, the error message "The livestream is not available in your current location" will appear.
If the viewer receives this error message on a streaming device like Roku, Amazon Fire, or Apple TV, then there may be another issue occurring. There will also be an alphanumeric code like P12-B34-S567-V890:
What's Happening Here
- Each station has an assigned set of zip codes which can access their livestream. These zip codes are approved by PBS based on the station's broadcast area, license type, and FCC designations.
- Each viewer's IP address has a zip code it's assigned to.
- If their IP address gives a zip code that includes that station, they can view the station's livestream.
- If their IP address gives a zip code that does not include that station, they will see the error above.
How can a viewer's IP address have a zip code different from their real zip code?
- An IP address also has an accuracy radius, and this radius can range from small (within a few miles) to large (within several hundred miles). The size depends on the IP address provided by their ISP.
- A viewer's IP address can return a zip code anywhere in this area's range - similar to throwing a dart at a dartboard, the wider the area, the further away from the center their location may be.
- IP addresses can also change - sometimes day-to-day, based on the user and their ISP - and this could return a new zip code anywhere within that accuracy radius. This is why a viewer may see the issue suddenly occur when they could watch the livestream the day before they had the issue. The day-to-day scenario above is an extreme example, and for some users it may not happen that often, but we do have reports of IP addresses changing each day.
This is more likely to happen for users who live along the edge of your area, or for users with IP addresses with large accuracy radiuses (typical of ISPs that are newer or serve rural regions).
Requesting an IP location correction with MaxMind, the third-party we use for location services.
Anyone - the user or the station - can submit a correction request to MaxMind, the third-party we use for location services. MaxMind receives the correction request and updates their database on the following Tuesday. Anyone can make that request here: https://www.maxmind.com/en/geoip-location-correction
This is more helpful for IP addresses that don't change frequently. If a viewer's IP address does change frequently (like day-to-day), then submitting a correction request will only help for one IP address, and not each new one.
As MaxMind's database is corrected for affected viewers over time, this should hopefully become less of an issue for viewers.