This trope is about two little things:
- People who donate money directly to the producer or distributor of works, in hopes of seeing more like them.
- Viewers of programs or networks whose primary funding comes from voluntary donations, rather than advertising or subscription.
The Trope Namer is PBS, whose stations and original programs used to be funded almost entirely by viewers. (Some stations still are.) For this reason, most PBS programs still end their acknowledgements with "Made possible by ... viewers like you." (Lately they've been following this with a pause, and then "Thank you.") Odds are, fewer viewers donate than not. People usually donate to PBS not because it helps keep the station running, but because neat "gifts" get thrown in (albeit for far more than the free-market rate), and because it's the PBS equivalent of Ratings: the sorts of programs that bring in heavy donations during pledge drives are the sorts of programs that the station will renew. Most of the grant money comes from airtime-hungry corporations, not-for-profit foundations, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting ("A private corporation funded by
taxpayers the American people").
- Heavily parodied on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 8th-season episode Overdrawn at the Memory Bank. Since the show's writers/cast chose not to go all-in on recently-departed star Raúl Juliá, the next best target was public television pledge drives. So Pearl, having found her way to Castle Forrester an episode prior after escaping Ancient Rome, started a pledge drive to go play the slot machines.
- NPR ("Listeners like you")
- TBN (Trinity Broadcast Network).
- LinkTV (Only on DirecTV, Dish and the web)
- EWTN (a Roman Catholic network, with their very odd "Religious Catalouge" program)
- Most Christian television and radio, and religious media in general for that matter, with one big exception.
- Canadian provincial television (TVOntario and BC's Knowledge Network).
- PBS shows do this. In 1999, a mandate was issued which requires Thanking the Viewer. American Masters happened to be already doing so at least a year prior, and some shows are really creative about it.
- Averted by Buccaneer Broadcaster Radio Caroline in the 1970s. When they tried to supplement their meagre commercial revenue with an appeal for listener donations they didn't get any. They did manage to stay on the air, though.
- WCRB, a classical music radio station out of Boston that is affiliated with that city's local PBS station, WGBH.
- Many charities or other nonprofit organizations, perhaps with help from a local TV or radio station. (This could be anything from a public access/PEG channel to a local network affiliate.)
- Many Internet radio stations/networks, including SomaFM, mvyradio.com, and many others.
- Leo Laporte's TWiT network, though in that case Leo's pay comes almost solely from viewer/listener contributions rather than advertising (more a self-move to make him accountable to those who watch), which mainly goes to technical operations and other employees.
- Radio Dead Air home of What the Fuck Is Wrong with You?
- The Welcome to Night Vale podcast is funded mostly by merchandise sales and listener donations, with the creators offering gifts for people who set up a regular monthly contribution
- Many, many YouTubers do this.
- Parodied in the opening for the Strong Bad Email, "autobiography":
Strong Bad: This email is brought to you by a grant from The Cheat and the support of Viewers Like You.
- Patreon. (Akin to Kickstarter, but specialized on art.)
- In Justice League, The Culture Channel is used as a Brick Joke in the 2-parter "Injustice For All". The Ultra-Humanite is seen earlier in the episode enjoying an opera on the Culture Channel in prison, to Lex Luthor's displeasure. Later, when he's been paid off to betray Luthor, he donates it to the Culture Channel, leading to this hilarious parody of the line:
Announcer: This program was made possible by generous grants from the Ultra-Humanite and Viewers Like You.
- The Martha Speaks episode "Martha's Chair" has Mrs. Demson see the "Viewers Like You" segment while watching Antiques Roadshow. She then rudely replies "You're welcome!"
- Parodied in one Simpsons episode where a show Homer is watching on PBS is interrupted by a request for donations and won't continue until a certain goal is met. Homer then goes to extensive means to raise enough money to reach the goal. At the end of that episode, we see Rupert Murdoch broadcasting his own telethon to fund Fox.