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Survey Report: ‘Christian TV & the Future’ (Media & Communication in Ministry)

Survey Report: ‘Christian TV & the Future’ (Media & Communication in Ministry)

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Survey report compiled by Simon East.
Survey report compiled by Simon East.

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Published by: Simon East on Apr 02, 2011
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Simon East MN-311 Media & Communication in Ministry, Semester 2 2010 Survey Report: ‘Christian TV & the Future’ Word Limit

: 1400 Actual Words: 1596

TABLE OF CONTENTS REPORT RESULTS........................................................................................................ 2 Basic Demographics .................................................................................................... 2 Hours of Internet & TV Use Per Week ........................................................................ 2 Most Common TV-Related Equipment........................................................................ 3 Favourite Shows & Why .............................................................................................. 4 Consumption of Video Content Online ....................................................................... 5 Christian Television ..................................................................................................... 6 Suggested Content for Christian Broadcasters ............................................................ 7 Funding Broadcasting ................................................................................................. 7 THE CHRISTIAN ‘DIFFERENCE’ ..................................................................................... 8 SUMMARY ................................................................................................................. 9 Letter to Pastor ......................................................................................................... 11 APPENDICES ............................................................................................................. 13 Survey Questions ...................................................................................................... 13 Survey Results........................................................................................................... 15 Credits ...................................................................................................................... 15 BIBLIOGRAPHY ......................................................................................................... 16

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REPORT RESULTS
My survey intended to discover the perspectives and needs of both Christians and non-Christians, and the media that will help reach them. The next several pages highlight some of the interesting discoveries I found.

Basic Demographics
25 people fully completed my survey, plus a further 6 who made partially-complete submissions. Most respondents were in their 20s or early 30s and would probably be considered slightly more technologically-savvy than the general population.
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3

Male 11

No. Respodents

Female 14

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0 18 21 24 27 30 33 36 39 42 45

Age

Hours of Internet & TV Use Per Week
This graph displays the amount of
Hours of Internet Use

50 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45

internet use vs television use. While the number of hours differed greatly between respondents, it’s interesting that only two people watched television more than they used the internet. It appears that there is a trend, especially amongst younger people that the interactive nature of the internet is more engaging than the passive consumption of television.

Hours of TV

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Most Common TV-Related Equipment
This question revealed the typical equipment in respondent’s lounge rooms. It’s interesting to note that about two-thirds of people now have an LCD/Plasma television with high-definition capabilities. DVD players have also clearly replaced VCRs, but Blu-ray hasn’t gained the market share I expected (although note that PlayStation 3 consoles also contain a Blu-ray player).

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DVD Player Hi-Def TV or Set-Top-Box LCD/LED/Plasma Standard TV Surround sound Watch TV on my computer Home theatre system Pay/Cable TV VCR Digital projector Playstation 3 Another PVR DVD Recorder Foxtel IQ Recorder AppleTV Blu-Ray Player Xbox Xbox 360 3D capable television GoogleTV Other Satellite receiver Tivo

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Favourite Shows & Why
The following tables represent the most popular television shows from the focus group (all shows with two or more votes), as well as some of the reasons why they are popular. I was actually quite surprised at the low importance of music content, personal relevance and creativity in filming (probably elements that I personally gravitate towards).
Favourite Shows Rush Gossip Girl Masterchef Australia Packed to the Rafters Grey's Anatomy How I Met Your Mother The Office Madmen True Blood Glee Big Bang Theory House Top Gear Undercover Boss Law and Order SVU Junior Masterchef Australia Grand Total Most Important Production Element Storyline Humour Interesting topics/themes Quality of drama Calibre of actors Creativity in filming Really really nice food Attractive people Other Relevance to you Exotic locations Suspense The knowledge I gain or learn Music content Votes 4 4 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 74

Votes 21 18 17 12 7 5 5 5 4 4 3 3 2 0

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Consumption of Video Content Online
Although internet usage was reasonably high within the focus group, internet video has not caught on as much as I expected.

Watch Online Video

1-2 per month 8%

Would Watch More Online Video if Quality/Speed Improved

Hardly ever 56%

Weekly 32%

Yes 8

Possibly 8

Probably Not 9
Most days 4%

I was also surprised that podcasts weren’t very popular (Christians slightly ahead of non-Christians). Online Video Preference
YouTube/Vimeo YouTube on iPhone/iPod Podcasts (on iPhone/iPod) Podcasts (on computer) None of the above Other Internet-enabled TV Video Apps (Boxee, Hulu)

Votes
19 6 3 3 4 2 0 0

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Christian Television
Christian television was rated quite badly, with only a handful of people giving scores above five.    Production quality is high, sound & picture is crisp & clear: Content is interesting, topical and relevant: The production is very creative and interesting to watch: Averaged 5.3 out of 10 Averaged 4.2 out of 10 Averaged 3.2 out of 10

The overall opinion of the Australian Christian Channel was reasonably poor (although only a small percentage actually had access to it). Zero people watched it regularly, and only two switched it on occasionally.

Opinions of Christian TV
Production quality is high, the sound and picture is crisp and clear Creative and interesting to watch Content is interesting, topical and relevant

Access to Aust. Christian Channel

Yes (3)
never watch

Yes (2)
occasional

No. Respondents

No (16)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
0 people watched ACC regularly.

Rating Out of Ten

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Suggested Content for Christian Broadcasters
The following table lists the suggestions the respondents would give to churches considering producing television content. Preferred Type of Content
Real-world stories Help with common life issues (relationships, direction, psychology) Engaging short films Explaining the bible in simple and engaging ways Leadership skills and strategies Inspiring and motivating speeches Local issues or news (within your city) Music (other than 'worship') Coverage of special events Interesting lessons from History Global issues or news Creative expressions of praise or worship Technology and modern life Documentaries Other

Votes
11 11 9 8 7 6 5 3 3 3 2 1 1 1 1

Funding Broadcasting
The graph below shows the amount of people who considered free-to-air TV worthy of financial investment, versus investing in internet communication. There was a somewhat higher value placed on internet content, perhaps because of the (perceived?) high cost of broadcast-quality productions compared with the low benefit (at least with what has been seen in the past).

Should Ministry Funds Be Used for Broadcasting?
8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 No Not sure Yes, but less Yes, but more

Free-to-air broadcasting

Internet streaming/broadcasting

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THE CHRISTIAN ‘DIFFERENCE’
The reason my statistics are not split into Christians and non-Christians was that I simply could not identify significant differences. They both appeared to have the same opinions in their preference for content, the technology they own, hours spent on the internet, and opinion of current Christian broadcasting. The two subtle differences I did identify:  Hours spent watching TV Christian average: Non-Christian average: 10 hrs/week 16 hrs/week

I suspect this relates to the lower value placed upon television by some (by no means all) Christians, or perhaps that they are more involved with church events or volunteering. I’m still amazed by the massive amounts of time people invest in television (I’m one of the 0.3% of households that do not own one).  Use of Podcasts Christians appeared to utilise podcasts somewhat more often, probably because much Christian teaching/preaching material is transitioning from tapes/CDs to podcasts.

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SUMMARY
Christian TV is not rating well. I can barely remember a time that a friend actually recommended a Christian program to me1. The Australian Christian Channel seems to be struggling to gain much acceptance – perhaps more the fault of the content producers than the channel itself. But the future can be different. The survey revealed some insights that churches can learn from...

TELEVISION still plays a major role in lives, with 10+ hours a week watched on average2 – probably
more than most other hobbies. The drawcard appears to be the entertainment or ‘escapism’ – allowing people to spectate on lives apparently more interesting than their own. There appears to be a gradual increase in on-demand viewing where PVRs (including products like Foxtel IQ and Tivo) allow easy recording, time shifting and instant playback of television content. I suspect that this will only increase as people tire of advertising and/or squeeze viewing into their increasingly busy lives. But the INTERNET is an emergent realm that combines work, learning, entertainment and social interaction. Internet video does not appear to have reached maturity or widespread use (less than half of the respondents admitted to using it). YouTube (worth $1.65 Billion dollars when purchased by Google3) appears to be the primary source of online video, despite its history of pixelated, low quality and time-restricted clips. Browser vendors have been fighting to get an internet video standard established, but even with Google’s release of the VP8 codec, web video still isn’t standardised4. Despite this, online video can only grow in popularity and potential. Google’s release of ‘GoogleTV’ – a device that combines internet content with broadcast television – may hint at the way of the future. The internet also provides the potential for interaction and communication that television has always lacked.

PRODUCERS need to understand the changing tastes and expectations of their viewers. With highdefinition televisions now the norm, content should really be produced in nothing less than 1080i resolution. Lower resolutions footage will appear to lack the HD crispness and will probably age quicker. Creative storytelling still draws a crowd, and this should be utilised in both dramatic and non-fiction productions. Humour also fuels popularity, often sparking viral word-of-mouth spread. A
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Perhaps the only one was the Florida Outpouring live via GodTV Satellite, where a group of us gathered, watched the revival and let it spark a prayer meeting amongst us (2008). Based on my survey. The Australian Government actually quotes a figure closer to 22 hrs per week per Australian adult. (http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/gtp/wftvanalysis.html#Rag12222) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youtube http://diveintohtml5.org/video.html

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3 4

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potentially untapped genre is in helping people with ‘real life issues’, or providing insightful leadership training (as popularly suggested by the focus group). Thankfully, Australian audiences seem to appreciate local content equally as well as U.S. imports. At a basic level, people favoured FUNDING internet projects more than free-to-air television. I suspect this is because the internet has a much lower bar of entry, requiring less cost to setup, and greater value-for-dollar.

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Letter to Pastor
Dear Pastor, I’m excited about your willingness to get involved in media production – there is huge potential waiting to be tapped. But... please ensure a few things are considered. Free-to-air television currently has the greatest reach to Australians (potential reach: 22.4 million), BUT it has proved very difficult to enter with Christian content. Entertainment (in increasingly hedonistic forms) takes up most of the prime-time slots. Only a few of the best and most wealthy Christian programs have secured regular timeslots on the major networks, and yet most of Australians have probably never heard of them. The Australian Christian Channel is easier to enter, but is only available on pay-TV networks (potential reach: 6.4 million5), and appears to not gain much attention other than a small slice of already-committed Christians. I believe the internet is perhaps the best arena to focus on, IF you have the right passionate and creative people driving it. Because ‘everyone else is doing it’ is not a valid reason. The potential of internet video has yet to be fully realised, but it is continually growing with improved infrastructure (potential reach: 2 billion6). The current issues of buffering delays and picture quality can be overcome with careful planning. YouTube streams 2 billion videos per day7 (an audience 50 times larger than Australian television8). I think if church media was designed with ‘guerrilla tactics’ it would achieve greater success than past attempts – bold and creative, virally-spread, grass-roots, and targeting a specific niche (much like the early church!). I’d encourage you to check out a great example — Bulls+Arrows9. Birthed out of a vision from youth mission organisation Youth Dimension, this is a website/media project aimed at reaching young people with the gospel. Their website combines short films, music, band interviews and social interaction. It also works alongside their high school programs around Melbourne. Their short films are high quality, thought-provoking and their website mixes in a lot of pop culture to build bridges
5 6 7 8 9

http://www.acctv.com.au/cmspage.php?intid=142 http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youtube assuming the average Australian watches two shows per day http://bullsandarrows.com/

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and pique the interest of young people. Their budget is reasonably small10, but are already making a significant impact. With a changing media landscape, we need to ask God to help us see ahead of the times and invest in the areas that will be fruitful in 2, 5 or 10 years time. Please consider breaking away from the tired methods of last decade and try something revolutionary. Praying that God would birth something new that might lead people out of their spiritual wilderness (Isaiah 43:19). Regards, Simon East Creative Producer & Visionary

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An iMac, Canon 7D DSLR (1080p video support), software and random accessories probably cost less than $10,000. A creative person was then employed part-time and later increased to full-time to manage the website and produce the series of films.

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APPENDICES Survey Questions
To target both Christians and non-Christians – determining relevancy and direction of Christian TV. Suggestions for church media studios. 
Television o What equipment do you use to watch television? (tick all that apply) Standard television LCD/LED/Plasma flat screen television High definition TV or set-top box 3D capable television Digital projector Watch TV on my computer Subscribe to Pay Television: Foxtel, Optus, Austar etc. DVD Player DVD Recorder VCR Satellite receiver (for free satellite channels) Foxtel IQ Recorder Tivo I have another PVR (hard-drive video recorder, usually with time-shifting features) Home theatre system Surround sound Xbox Xbox 360 Playstation 3 AppleTV GoogleTV Another device capable of playing internet or streaming video on your television Other o Hours of television you watch per week (a rough guess) o Hours of internet use per week (a rough guess) o Your top three favourite shows (either broadcasted or online) o What aspects of those shows make them your favourites? Storyline Quality of drama Humour Relevance to you Suspense Creativity in filming Interesting topics/themes Calibre of actors Attractive people Music content Other o Do you use the internet to watch streaming video? Hardly ever Once or twice a month Weekly Most days Every day o I watch internet video mainly via: Websites like YouTube or Vimeo YouTube on iPhone/iPod My internet-enabled television Podcasts on my computer Podcasts on my iPhone/iPod Video applications like Boxee, Hulu None of the above Other o Would you watch more video content over the internet if the quality and/or speed was improved? Yes Possibly Probably not Previous Experience of Christian TV o Belief in God, options: I don’t really know what’s out there (agnostic) Evolution explains life so God isn’t needed (atheist) I believe in God and follow Jesus I believe in God but think Christians have got it wrong I use ‘the force’ I am God o Which Christian television programs have you witnessed before? Touched by an Angel th 7 Heaven Hillsong Television This is Your Day (with Benny Hinn) Life Today (with James Robison) The Potter’s Touch (with T.D. Jakes) The 700 Club Enjoying Everyday Life (with Joyce Meyer) Joel Osteen None of the above o Do you have access to the Australian Christian Channel (via Foxtel/Optus/Austar)? Yes, and watch it regularly Yes, and watch it occasionally Yes, but never watch it No o Have you witnessed Christian media online?  YouTube, Vimeo, etc.  Podcasts (audio or video)  Other streaming media Views on Christian television [if they have seen it]

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How relevant are Christian TV shows to your life? Relates to everyday life Relates to parts of my life Not highly relevant, but still interesting Feels quite irrelevant and disconnected from my life o Quality Production quality is high, the sound and picture is crisp and clear The production is very creative and interesting to watch Content is interesting, topical and relevant o Do you think Christian ministries should spend money on free-to-air broadcasting (eg. Channel 2/7/9/10/SBS etc.)? o Do you think Christian ministries should spend money on internet streaming/broadcasting? o If you have ever watched church events on television (perhaps with worship music or preaching), what feedback would you give? Has been great, really encourages me. I occasionally find something interesting and helpful Seems stale and outdated, what about something fresh, new or cutting-edge? Seems staged and self-serving Seems detached from reality of everyday life, why don’t you target the needs and issues of ‘normal’ people? Please don’t advertise books/CDs or other products, it seems like you’re running a business Please don’t manipulate people for donations I’ve never witnessed church services on TV o General comments: “Do you have any further opinions or experiences about Christians on television?” Comments/suggestions to churches starting a media studio o [if Christian] Do you think television is a legitimate mission field? Definitely, what better way to reach every home in Australia? Definitely, TV & media is the language of my generation

o

Yes, but it needs to work alongside relationships and community It can help promote or spark ideas, but outreach is best done in person No, mission is about people, not media Other o [if Christian] Do you think the internet is a legitimate mission field? Definitely, what better way to communicate worldwide, without restrictions Definitely, all my friends use the internet everyday, and they need reaching Yes, but it needs to work alongside relationships and community It’s helpful for believers or those already searching, but it doesn’t work well for those with no faith It can help promote or spark ideas, but mission/outreach is best done in person No, mission is about people, not media Other o If a church near you was thinking about producing television content, what would you suggest they focus on? Explaining the bible in simple and engaging ways Inspiring and motivating speeches Real-world stories Local issues or news (within your city) Global issues or news Creative expressions of praise or worship Music (other than ‘worship’) Engaging short films Leadership skills and strategies Coverage of special events Interesting lessons from History Technology and modern life Documentaries Help with common life issues (relationships, direction, psychology) o What other advice or suggestions would you give them? Demographics o Name o Gender – male/female o Age o Any further comments to expand on your answers above?

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Survey Results
The full results of my survey can be accessed at the following URLs: SurveyGizmo Report: http://j.mp/9qe5D6 Raw Data in Excel: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/9911892/Media_Survey_Results.xlsx

Credits
Appreciation is extended to:  SurveyGizmo and their brilliant online survey system, with generous free accounts available. http://www.surveygizmo.com  Facebook for the promotion of my survey, helping me identify and contact potential respondents. http://www.facebook.com

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BIBLIOGRAPHY
ACC: Advertising (2010) Available internet: http://www.acctv.com.au/cmspage.php?intid=142 (27th October 2010). http://diveintohtml5.org/video.html (27th October 2010). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youtube (25th October 2010). http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm (28th October 2010). Peters, B. (n.d.) “Free-to-air television in Australia.” Screen Australia. Available internet: http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/gtp/wftvanalysis.html#Rag12222 (27th October 2010)

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