From time to time I’ve been asked about making financial projections on religious TV programs. In other words, with a typical daily or weekly program, can we project from a fundraising point of view what a particular program will make based on past or similar programs? From my perspective, if we could project the results of our programs successfully, we’d all be billionaires. The problem is the finicky nature of the TV audience. The secular networks like ABC or NBC literally spend tens of millions on audience research year in and year out, and still produce failing shows every single season. If they’re spending millions doing it, I have serious doubts our meager methods will yield much.
The response I’ve gotten from the most watched religious programs on television backs that up. They’ve told me that there are simply too many factors to make those projections accurately. For instance:
What’s the competition on TV on a particular day?
What’s the offer? How’s that offer priced?
Is it a product or a project?
How’s the production and creative level of that particular show?
Was the host/teacher/preacher compelling that particular day, or was he or she off?
What’s the theme of that particular program?
How’s the mail response been this month?
How’s the economy doing?
What’s our audience rating today?
Just because a similar show did $__ last year on this date, doesn’t mean it will happen again because of all these competing factors. So let’s take that pressure off the producers. I believe some people get their shorts so tied up in knots over making numbers, that we’re not giving programs the creative space to breathe and grow.
When we keep panicking every time we don’t hit these vague numbers – we toss solid strategy and creative ideas out the window, and that takes it’s toll.
The battle for TV audiences isn’t won on a daily basis – it’s won over the long haul. In fact, Joyce Meyer is so convinced of this, they often produce programs that won’t even be broadcast for at least 6 months. Programs she produced nearly a year ago still haven’t been broadcast. So it’s impossible for her to react based on day to day results. But she believes it’s about the long haul – not the short term gain.