Ken Burns: Netflix is great, but PBS still gets the ratings

Ken Burns: Public TV the 'tortoise' that delivers ratings

Though new platforms such as Netflix have increased accessibility to his work, filmmaker Ken Burns said Tuesday that public television continues to be his go-to distribution source.

Appearing on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street," the director said, "Public television is like the tortoise as opposed to the hare. A lot of sleeker, and apparently sexier, things [come along], but we cross the finish line with a huge number of ratings."

Burns, who is perhaps best known for his nine-part series "The Civil War," said that while PBS draws those who enjoy and appreciate appointment television, he recognizes that people increasingly want content on demand.

Getty Images

"They want to watch it when they want to watch it, [and] that's where Netflix comes along. That's where on-demand, that's where download to own or download to rent comes along," he said. "All of those things have added enormously to our audience.

"We're underwritten in the corporate sector by Bank of America, and they see this as an investment ... in reaching broad numbers of people who are their customers and potential customers," Burns said.

While viewers can still get content on DVD, he said, they "can also get it on Netflix and all other platforms. ... That's legs, and that's why I've stuck with PBS."

—By CNBC's Karma Allen