Christian MediaMedia Production

Is Your TV Program Open Too Long?

In the eighties, I produced what I called “biographical” show opens. For instance, in a religious ministry program, the purpose was to open the program by telling the audience who the pastor or speaker was, what his message was all about, and how it could change their lives. It was a way to let the audience know critical information right away so they could buy into the program based on the credibility of the host or hostess. But that took at least 30-45 seconds, and sometimes longer.

But now, TV show openings (especially for popular programs) are much shorter. The thinking today is to get people into the programs much faster. Much of this perspective comes from living in a 500+ channel universe. In cities with 100 or more cable or satellite channels, our informal research indicates that people take an average of only 2-5 seconds to decide whether or not to watch a particular program. (And for those of us with Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, 1 second is all we need!)

Therefore, in a world where people are changing channels so quickly, the real need is to get them into the program much faster and hopefully get them hooked. One of our video editors at Cooke Media Group, who has worked recently with a major television sports network, tells us that particular network has mandated that all program opens be no more than 10 seconds, because that’s when their research indicates people are changing the channel.

How long is your program open? Is you audience getting bored before the real program even starts? Perhaps it’s time to shorten the open and get to the meat of the program before your audience has time to change the channel.

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  1. Take a look at news programs…many now aren’t even introducing the anchors before they are into their first story. RIght out of the open into a voice over story (or highlights in the sports world).

    Viewing patience is at a premieum. Even local weather has finally figured out that all I want is the extended forecast. Give it to me now!

    It is painful to watch Christian TV at times…as we choose to ignore the desires of the viewer in favor of what we have always done.

    Matt Gould, Senior Producer

    Edifi Media 
    Buffalo, NY 

  2. Ten seconds? Geepers, Wally, How are we ever gonna get the entire sappy song in there, while showing our host in staged poses looking “real”? [hang on, what is this pink piece of paper?] — posted by the infamous king of Jesus Junk! (hi Phil!)

  3. The scene opens with a long shot (from over the heads of the crowd) of Rabbi Yeshua walking up the side of the hill just north of Kefar Nachum (Capernaum). Following the subject, the camera slowly zooms in. The murmuring crowd is quickly stilled as a new teacher and prophet from the Galilee turns, sits down and, facing the crowd, speaks loudly but clearly through the rising morning mist, strangely gentle, but with an orator’s skill. “Blessed are the poor in Spirit…” Folks, that’s all the introduction they needed; and its all we need!

    Having been involved in various aspects of radio, television, performance and production a good part of my life I am personally aware of how easy it is to get side-tracked with “producing a product.” A few years back I attended for couple of semesters a Christian Seminary. In homiletics class I recall the professor’s views on what constituted an effective sermon. Essentially it was: get right into the message, tell a story, keep it simple, pure and sincere and always end with a practical application. Messiah Yeshua did precisely that. (Or shall we say that the homiletics professor was following Jesus’ example?)

    Recently, I had the opportunity, as the part time chief engineer of a community access television station, to run free of charge, seven days a week in a fixed one hour time slot, the teaching series of a certain Bible scholar. The only uninterrupted slot available, however, was 2:00 am! I argued for a morning or evening slot but they been filled. But then I felt that it was as if Holy Spirit was whispering to me, “I am the one who moves the unbeliever to seek, and the seeker to find the Lord.” It became so clear. God could easily awaken a troubled heart at 2:00 am to turn on the TV and have a divine appointment with destiny!

    So, here’s the application of all this. Our success as Christian media professionals does not ultimately depend upon our clever techniques, the quality of the production or our ideas of timing or scheduling. Yes, of course these are important and God expects us and — our clients deserve for us — to reach for perfection. But it is the clear message of the Gospel itself that changes hearts. Is a simple, pure and sincere message. And, it is the Holy Spirit who moves people to seek and he is the one who opens people’s hearts unto salvation.

    Did you know that a study of the Gospels suggests that Jesus spent at least an hour in prayer for every hour he preached publicly? What if all of us Christian media professionals spend just 10 minutes in prayer for each hour we produced? Wow, what a concept!

    Doug S.
    Boulder, CO

  4. Amen Brother Cooke! We are in the midst of a grand and glorious recreation of what we have in the past have called television. [television, for those who haven’t yet figured it out, is the name of a broadcast technology (remember those metal things called antennas?)] But I digress… we are living in the age of the coexistence of large screens and small screens. “LOST” has to look good not only on my 52″ plasma, it also must look good when I download it to my iPod. Meanwhile the commercial-skipping ease of DVRs and Tivo have ad agencies creating 5 second and even 1 second commercials to sneak in their messages just before the program content. So what does this have to do with your program open? Don’t waste a second. Grab your audience immediately, keep it moving, and do not let up. We have been entrusted with the message – produce as worthy servants. Keep preaching to the choir, Phil. We need it. — Joe, Columbus, Ohio

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