Christian Media

Religious Networks Moving to the Web

I’ve written before about the efforts Trinity Broadcasting has made toward the internet with programming, and now The New Inspiration Network announces the same thing in Media Post Magazine:

Electronic Pulpit Becomes Digital Pulpit, As TV Ministries Move From Broadcast To Broadband
by Joe Mandese

WHEN BROADCAST EMERGED AS THE dominant means of mass communication, religious groups and faith-based organizations quickly embraced broadcast radio and TV spectrum to spread the word. Now they’re doing the same thing with broadband, creating what might well be described as digital ministries. But unlike broadcast, which could only be utilized by religious groups large enough to appeal to the masses, the Internet is empowering much smaller groups – even down to the community or parish level – to reach their followers electronically.
That’s the logic behind a major push by The Inspiration Networks, one of the largest TV-based distributors of religious programming, into the world of broadband. To date, Inspiration, which already operates four TV channels – INSP, i-Lifetv, La Familia Cosmovision, and Inspiration Network International – is moving quietly for fear of disrupting its relationships with cable and satellite operators, but earlier this month it launched, a new broadband video hub it believes will give the same kind of instantaneous, electronic reach that TV to smaller religious groups looking to expand their flock.
“This is the dawn of a new era serving of the most important market segments of the country,” Bill Airy, Inspiration’s COO stated earlier this month, noting that the potential audience for such programming represents about 40 percent of the U.S. population. “We will leverage all our programming and promotional assets through more than 30 million households that receive them and the more than 8 million people weekly” that watch Inspiration’s TV channels, he added.

That promotional base, plus Inspiration’s acumen for producing faith-based programming, as well as a new, state-of-the-art digital production studio it opened in Charlotte, NC, are the basis of Inspiration’s move online, but the push is also being driven by something its linear TV channels have long-desired, but which have so far remained elusive: advertising dollars. By catering to the needs of smaller religious groups, and faith-based community organizations, plans to tap a new base of advertising spending. While big consumer marketers have so far eschewed placing significant ad budgets on its TV channels, Inspiration executives believe the online community can build relationships and attract grass-roots advertising and marketing support from products and services seeking to tap devoted followers, especially those hoping to benefit from the tacit endorsement of religious groups.

Joe Mandese is Editor of MediaPost.

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