Engaging CultureStrategy & Marketing

The Rise of Churches Producing Local Television in Small to Medium Markets

One of the things I never expected during a pandemic was the rise of churches using local TV to share their message. In markets like Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Lebanon, Ohio; Mandeville, Louisiana; and Destin, Florida; visionary churches have embraced broadcast TV during the lockdown and are making a powerful impact on their communities.

The problem is that so many pastors and leaders consider broadcast television a platform of yesterday rather than tomorrow. But there’s plenty of reasons that I’m not ready to count TV out of the game. After all, when movies were invented in the late 1800’s, that didn’t eliminate live events. And when radio was invented it didn’t eliminate movies. And when TV was invented it didn’t eliminate radio. And now, the Internet won’t eliminate television. Certainly things change and during each transition, the previous medium finds a new level. But ultimately they all find their place in the media universe.

What’s the greatest benefit of local TV for a church? The ability to reach a significant local audience and encourage them to visit in-person. I’ve seen firsthand the number of people seeing a church service on TV, then deciding to check it out in person, and often, they get plugged in for good.

And while I’m the first to advocate that churches continue streaming their services, live-stream viewers have to be intentional about finding your stream. But enormous numbers of TV viewers just stumble on a program while flipping through the channels.

And remember, local TV – particularly in small to medium-sized markets isn’t beyond the budget of many churches. Depending on the day and time (and the audience you want to reach), you can still find affordable time slots.

Adweek Magazine calls this a “Halo Effect” and has shown it is true for secular products and brands as well. They discovered:

• TV can drive digital performance. Analysis conducted by Effectv and TVSquared found that the right kind of TV ad placement and frequency can increase website visits by as much as 127%.
• TV is a growth engine for emerging brands. Social media isn’t the only option. Brands three years or younger saw a 23% increase in web traffic within the first month of launching a TV campaign.
• Digital and TV work better together. MediaScience research discovered a 12% lift in brand attitude when a digital ad was preceded by a TV ad.

You can find Adweek’s research study here.

Never put your marketing and messaging dollars all in one basket, but broadcast TV is still a vital part of a strategy for reaching your community. If you’re interested in exploring that option, reach out to our team at Cooke Media Group and we’re happy to tell you how.

Photo by Carlynn Alarid on Unsplash

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  1. Agreed! I wish I worked in a smaller market. I’ve been dealing with airtime costs of a top 10 for my entire career. The opportunities of adding broadcast to a church’s tool box would be a great opportunity. Instead of settling for an average time on a less popular station, we could have a much better slot in a smaller market and on a network affiliate.

  2. Hi, Phil….

    Could you tell me the who and where of Sioux Falls and Lebanon, OH, please? Lebanon, in particular….a small-town bedroom community of both Cincinnati and Dayton (closer to Cincy and in its ADI), it’s just down the road from me a bit here in Dayton.

    Add Columbus-based Rock City to your list, buying in Columbus and, now, Dayton, where it’s planning a future campus.

    Also, if you haven’t, you REALLY should see Cincinnati’s Crossroads Church video product and productions…it’s an extraordinary example of what can be and seems to be an A+ example of everything you prescribe!

    1. Celebrate Church with Pastor Keith Loy is in Sioux Falls, and CityGate Church with Pastor Eric Petree is in Lebanon. Citygate is just waiting for the right availability – who knew it would be so hard to find a good slot in the Cincy/Dayton markets?

      1. Dayton has plenty of avails, it appears…..given that we see only two from Cincy on our cable (and down in the SD-only ghetto), I’m not as sure about them but note a much greater presence of local news there on Sundays than here, which, I’m sure, is filling many potential slots……

        BTW, gotta watch ’em…as in, “these locals” and “like a hawk”……they’ll continue to publish schedules to the guides that merely say “Paid Programming” and not the name you want unless you watch ’em (maybe even every week) and say “pretty please”…….watch both name and length, lest you have a DVR-fail!

        Should have figured out Celebrate….even just shy of a thousand miles a way, I have some familiarity with them! Not with CityGate, though….thank you for the tip!

        And, seriously, check out Crossroads….if anyone anywhere is doing anything equal or better or even close, by golly, I’d sure like to know about it! https://www.youtube.com/user/crdschurch/videos

  3. Sorry, meant to also mention Fountain Springs, a three-site church in Rapid City, on the NBC affiliate there and, now, maybe some number of other upper-midwest markets.

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