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Public Educational Media
February 5, 2021

AVDF supported the production of a 5-hour documentary film series and public educational project that examined the evolving identity, contributions and challenges experienced by the nation’s fastest growing racial group, Asian Americans. The primary goal was to reframe the role Asian Americans have played in shaping U.S. history.

WETA’s final report indicates the project was a major success. The program premiered nationwide on PBS and online on May 11-12, 2020 to a large audience at the height of the pandemic. Asian Americans drew an overall .69 rating during its initial broadcast reaching an audience average of 3.5 million people with Episode 1 registering over 5 million viewers according to Nielsen. Streaming viewership was also strong with over 530,000 streaming views of episodes, clips and promos via website and mobile devices. With the support of key stakeholders and social media influencers, the social engagement for Asian Americans far exceeded past cultural programming promotion. Two weeks after the launch of a coordinated social media campaign, #AsianAmPBS reached over 53.4 million unique users across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. The website features guest contributors from the Asian American community and an interactive gallery of photos and clips from the series to highlight key historical Asian American figures in U.S. history. With the support of a diverse cohort of 43 educators spanning various years of experience, 36 unique lesson plans for elementary, middle and high school students were developed for PBS LearningMedia.

In addition to broadcast, the film included an extensive communications and engagement campaign through broadcast, radio and the press. As a result of COVID-19 restrictions, the engagement campaign for Asian Americans was carried out online in targeted markets with large Asian American populations and where dialogue between diverse communities would be beneficial. Selected local PBS stations were able to partner with over 70 community organizations through various online engagement activities.

Asian Americans received wide national and local publicity from the press, radio, television and podcast. Major features and interview placements included Associated Press, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, NBC News, Entertainment Tonight, and NPR All Things Considered. The New York Times called the program “The most ambitious documentary ever to chronicle the history of the Asian-American community.” Wyoming PBS, a station that serves a mostly rural audience statewide, shared the following comment from a viewer: “Maybe by learning one another’s history as well as our own, we can find a common ground to begin to genuinely respect, appreciate and value one another; then teach each generation to do and to be the same. Just maybe it could be achieved in someone’s future lifetime.”

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