Christian MediaMedia Production

In Praise of Broadcast TV in an Online World

In my work with non-profits, religious organizations, an even businesses, more and more people are turning away from the TV broadcast world to the online world.  To some degree, it’s natural, and digital media should be an important part of your strategic plan for connecting with a larger audience or customer base.  However, in a world that’s crazy over online media, content producers shouldn’t forget what broadcast media does very well, and especially why you shouldn’t be too quick to walk away from traditional TV:

1)  When it comes to full-length programming, TV is still the king.  YouTube, Vimeo, and similar sites generate enormous views, but it’s still mostly short clips.   As filmmaker George Lucas described, “Videos of puppies crossing a freeway.”  He used that illustration to describe the way that YouTube captures attention and can be interesting, but rarely a long-form, compelling experience.

2)  As a result, TV is still “America’s campfire.”  Nothing online generates the type of water-cooler conversation that “American Idol” does.  For all the talk about “community” online, we actually watch online videos primarily as individuals, but we still watch TV in groups.  As a result, the experience is different, and in media and entertainment, that issue matters.

3)  Amassing a big audience online doesn’t yet guarantee big ad revenues.  The TV audience is a buying audience.  Online?  We’re not sure yet.

4)  TV & film content still drives most entertainment.  Even the most successful online entertainment venture – – for the most part is TV programming re-purposed online.  The most popular online programs are simply TV programs on a different medium.

Don’t get me wrong.  The world is moving online, but that doesn’t mean TV is going away.  Radio didn’t displace movies, and TV didn’t replace radio.  New platforms perform new purposes and don’t necessarily displace old media.  TV has a lot to offer, and in an effective media strategy, don’t forget that component.


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  1. Great word Phil!  As our consultant, you have showed us how to broadcast with a purpose and for that we are grateful!  For pastors considering a television ministry, here’s been our experience:  Our online presence is a must, but the truth be told, the unchurched still let the TV drive them before checking out a church online…church people go to the online presence before non-believing people.  TV stil dominates, so if you want to touch lives by the masses you may want to consider broadcasting on your local cable networks or at the very least creating good commercials to drive visitors to your church.  Just a thought.  Keep up the great work Phil!  The church needs what you have to say.

  2. I couldn’t agree more Phil.

    A church or ministry should keep all digital and traditional media options on the table.

    Integrated media synergy is a powerful ally to the communicator and his/her message … when each medium is used correctly. And there’s the rub.

    As you well know, it takes millions of dollars to effectively use radio, television and the internet on an individual basis. Only a handful of ministries successfully deploy all three. And digital technology is changing so rapidly that it’s a challenge for many radio/tv ministries to maintain balanced budgets and do the R&D required to take full advantage of the new technologies.

    It’s a dilemma for broadcasters.

    I see more and more churches of all sizes building media platforms, without using broadcast. Digital Missions and the Web Campus strategy are examples. Over 7,000 visitors jammed into the web campus of North Point Church for their inaugural live online service.

    I believe you said once before that a new business model is needed on the radio/tv side. You’re right. Stations and churches working together on innovative new approaches would be a good place to start, in my view.




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