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For Sharing a Christian Message, Television Still Matters – A Lot

Churches, ministries, nonprofits, and others – if you have a message to share, don’t think TV’s days as a viable content delivery system are over. In an upcoming report to be released by the audience research firm Nielsen, here’s some interesting new facts:

– The average home in America now receives 189 television channels.
– It’s a significant increase from 2008, when the average home received 129 channels.
– But despite that increased number, most viewers watch about 17 channels regularly. (A number that hasn’t changed since 2008).
– This is a strong argument for “unbundling” cable channels, since most people don’t want to pay for the wide variety of channels they never watch. (Expect to see some politicians propose this later in the year).
– However – religious stations and networks have always opposed unbundling because they believe few people would actually select religious channels that were paid. In a bundled package, Christian television at least has a presence in far more homes (whether it’s watched regularly or not).
– One of the surprises is that TV channels continue to increase, despite competition from Hulu, Netflix, and other online competitors.

Conclusions – As I’ve written before, television is “America’s Last Great Campfire.” In spite of the popularity of the web, people are viewing billions of different sites and pages – and are doing it virtually alone. However, 189 channels is a far smaller source to huddle around. And with the smaller number of 17 regularly watched channels – that means millions are watching the same channels.

It’s the reason prime time media costs continue to increase. While people are online in greater numbers, the truth is, even there, they’re watching programs like Breaking Bad, 24, Dexter, and others originally broadcast on TV.

If you want to reach large audiences, television is still an important medium to keep in the mix.

What do you take away from these new statistics?


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  1. I’ve yet to find anything worth watching on one of the “religious” channels. Granted, my search has been far from exhaustive, but my sampling has found little more than glorified (pun intended?) cable access shows.

    What good is having a presence when the presentation is too underwhelming to attract viewership? We need to continue to raise the production value of all Christian content instead of clinging to the hope of remote control batteries dying the moment someone flips through to one of these “hokey” channels.

    Until then, I know I will choose books over television 100% of the time for my personal spiritual nourishment.

      1. Any chance that ‘big amen’ could be swapped out for a ‘big check’ to get some of these higher production value projects off the ground? 😉

        Seriously, though, I appreciate what you have to say on so many things, Phil. It’s been a blessing for to have found your blog. Keep doing what you’re doing!

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