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TBN’s Church Channel Offers Inspirational Niche for Cable, Satellite Viewers
What if there were a special television channel that carried the most popular church services and ministry programs featuring America’s favorite Christian leaders—24 hours every day of the week?
That was the question Dr. Paul Crouch, founder of the religious broadcasting giant Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), began asking himself several years ago as he and the team at TBN looked for ways to expand the influence of faith-and-family TV to new audiences.
“We were seeing an increase in the number of specialty—or niche—networks on cable and satellite television, channels that were geared for a particular group of viewers,” Crouch recalled. “At the same time our research was showing that churches services were among the most watched religious programs on television.”
In addition, Crouch noted, cultural shifts were beginning to dramatically impact the worship habits of millions of Americans—a shift that continues to this day. Researcher George Barna, one of the leading authorities on the changing face of religion in America, has noted that while a majority of Americans retain a strong belief in God and many express a desire to maintain a connection to church and organized worship, fully one-third of Americans do not attend church on a regular basis. In fact, over the past few years the number of “unchurched” Americans has grown by nearly a million individuals annually.
“But Barna’s research was telling us that these millions of folks who weren’t going to church were still looking for spiritual input in their lives,” said Crouch, “and many were relying on Christian media as that spiritual touchpoint.”
Excitement abounded for Crouch and others at TBN as a picture emerged of a crucial viewer niche in need of a network. “Here was a whole segment of viewers who wanted to be a part of an active faith community, but for a variety of reasons weren’t necessarily connecting with a local church body,” explained Paul Crouch Jr., son of TBN’s founder and now the network’s chief of staff. “We began to see the tremendous potential for a specialized network that would connect these viewers with the many dynamic churches and ministries that were producing top quality television programs.”
In 2002 TBN launched the Church Channel, the only network dedicated to broadcasting church services and ministry programs 24 hours a day. Since its beginnings the Church Channel has drawn some of the most influential and popular Christian leaders in the nation, from a broad range of denominations and traditions. “Because there are so many different worship styles that people embrace for their own personal lives, we’ve made it a priority to include as many of those styles as we can fit into a 24-hour broadcast day,” explained Paul Crouch Jr.
He emphasized that the one absolute requirement is that every program must be focused almost exclusively on ministry content. “Because so many viewers rely on the Church Channel for spiritual input, we limit to just three minutes per half-hour program the time ministries can spend on fund-raising,” he explained. “That means the network schedule is truly devoted to what we created it for—giving viewers 24-hour access to church and ministry services.”
Bob Higley, TBN’s vice president for cable and satellite relations, noted that the Church Channel stands out among the scores of niche networks vying for attention in the world of cable and satellite. “Among current cable subscribers, we found that a healthy 31 percent were interested in receiving the Church Channel,” he said.
“That interest goes to the heart of our philosophy behind all of TBN’s networks,” he said. “From the very beginning our focus has been to respond to that need every individual has to be uplifted and inspired in their daily life. We think the Church Channel, like all our networks, does that pretty well.”
About Trinity Broadcasting Network
Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) is the world’s largest religious network and America’s most watched and requested faith channel. Each day TBN offers 24 hours of commercial-free inspirational programming that appeals to viewers from a wide variety of denominations and backgrounds. Beginning in 1973 as a single UHF station in southern California, TBN now reaches every major continent via 78 satellites and more than 18,000 television and cable affiliates worldwide. In the United States, TBN is available to 92 percent of the total households. Its website receives millions of visitors monthly. In addition to TBN, the network owns and operates seven networks, including the Church Channel, JCTV youth network, TBN Enlace USA Spanish language network, and Smile of a Child children’s network. For more information on TBN, visit www.tbn.org and www.tbnnetworks.com.
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