20th Anniversary Executive Committee - Realscreen Summit 2018
Chief Programming Executive & General Manager General Audience Programming
Beth Hoppe is Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming at PBS. In that role she has overseen PBS’ growth from the 12th most watched in primetime to the 5th most watched among all broadcast and cable networks.
In just over three years in this position, Ms. Hoppe has overseen the return to PBS of original American drama with Mercy Street, a civil war medical drama set in Alexandria, VA; entered a co-production agreement with the BBC, which has generated science and natural history specials for both networks including Big Blue Live; and helped position PBS as the home for independent film with multi-platform projects like the Oscar-nominated Last Days in Vietnam from American Experience and The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution from Independent Lens.
Ms. Hoppe oversees the entire primetime content strategy and budget and works closely with the Executive Producers of PBS’ award winning series Frontline, Masterpiece, NOVA, Nature, American Masters and Great Performances. She has brought numerous new series and specials across multiple genres to PBS including history programs Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Genealogy Roadshow and In Their Own Words; and dramas Call the Midwife, Last Tango in Halifax and Vicious. Working with Ken Burns, Ms. Hoppe developed a multi-platform “epic binge” scheduling strategy, which resulted in The Roosevelts: An Intimate History being the most watched factual program on PBS since The Civil War more than two decades ago. She has also brought timely specials and events to PBS including a block of programming commemorating the anniversary of the assassination of JFK, a special on The March on Washington, and Year In Space, a partnership with TIME magazine, scheduled to coincide with Mark Kelly’s return from the International Space Station. Before taking on the top programming job at PBS, Ms. Hoppe spent just over a year as Vice President, Programming, during which she oversaw all natural history, science, history, and news and public affairs programming.
Before PBS, Ms. Hoppe spent more than eight years on the commercial side of the business. She came to PBS from Discovery where she oversaw Curiosity and developed and produced science projects for Discovery Studios. Prior to Discovery, Ms. Hoppe was President and CEO of Optomen Productions (USA), a Soho, New York-based television production company known for science, reality and factual programming, which she started from the ground up. Under her leadership, Optomen produced numerous successful programs and series for Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Travel Channel, PBS and the Food Network. Productions she created which went on to be long running series included Monsters Inside Me for Animal Planet, Most Evil for Discovery and I.D, Worst Cooks in America for Food Network, and Mysteries of the Museum for Travel Channel. Additional series and specials included the Emmy-nominated Evolve for The History Channel, Mars: The Quest for Life and Are We Alone? for Discovery and Science Channel, Can Animals Predict Disaster? for PBS’ Nature strand, and Gangland Graveyardfor Secrets of the Dead.
Prior to joining Optomen, Ms. Hoppe was Thirteen/WNET’s Executive Producer of PBS’ ground-breaking Frontier House and Colonial House, both of which were nominated for primetime Emmys, and, while Director of Science Programs at Thirteen/WNET, two projects, DNA and The Secret Life of the Brain, won the Emmy award for Outstanding Science Program. Working with Channel 4 in the UK, she created the long running strand Secrets of the Dead, and oversaw numerous productions and co-productions including 1900 House, Savage Seas, Savage Earth, Savage Planet and Innovation. At WGBH she was series producer of NOVA, and directed and produced several episodes of the series, including Great Moments from NOVA, and Avalanche! Before NOVA, Ms. Hoppe directed the Ten O’Clock News. She got her start in production at New Hampshire Public Television where she directed and edited New Hampshire Journal, floor managed Granite State Challenge, and ran camera for many productions including UNH Wildcat Hockey.
Ms. Hoppe serves on the Board of the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers, and has frequently participated in panels there and at RealScreen, IDA, the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, the New York Television Festival, and other industry events. She has served as a jury member for the Japan Prize and has been a judge for the News and Documentary Emmy Awards. She also has served on National Science Foundation grant review panels and has privately reviewed grants for other organizations, including the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.