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PBS gives iOS users first dibs on Bill Clinton documentary

PBS is giving users of its iPhone/iPad app an early preview of its documentary on former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

PBS' iPad app.
PBS' iPad app. PBS

PBS is testing the waters with a new way to hook users into tuning into one of its upcoming programs.

The television network announced today that it would be offering the first hour of its four-hour documentary on former U.S. President Bill Clinton on its iOS app, a full week before it airs on TV.

The film's description reads:

The documentary recounts a career full of accomplishment and rife with scandal, a marriage that would make history and create controversy, and a presidency that would define the crucial and transformative period between the fall of the Berlin Wall and 9/11.

The move to put a large chunk of that online is the network's latest effort to draw viewers with sneak peeks. In December, it posted the first 10 minutes of the second season of the popular "Downton Abbey" program, some two weeks before it aired. Others like HBO have offered entire episodes a week or two in advance.

The documentary is part of PBS' American Experience series, and is broken up into two, two-hour halves. The first airs February 20 at 9 p.m. Eastern, and the other the next night at 8 p.m. Eastern. Previous subjects of the series include former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, as well as historical figures like Robert E. Lee, the racehorse Seabiscuit, and Billy the Kid.

PBS introduced its iPad app in October 2010, following up with an app for the iPhone and iPod Touch three months later. The network says that it received "nearly one-third" of its 148 million video streams from mobile devices last month.