I saw a post on twitter from Phil Cooke about an article from Christian Newswire. For the last couple of years DoersTV has been surveying their online fans:
Based on the fan’s comments from the Fan Page posts over the last two years, over 90% of the people had a negative comment about Christian TV for the following reasons:
Too much begging for money and fundraising telethons
False prosperity teachers manipulating people for offerings
Boring and lack of quality programming
Lack of integrity of Christian Leaders they broadcast
Sounds like content on a lot of Christian Networks. So, who is this stuff made for?
Obviously, because this was an online survey, it ignores those not online. In America, 91% of 18-34 yr olds are online. (84% watch video online.) Compare to 47% of folks over 65 years of age. By the end of 2011 78.6% of North Americans were online. Leaving over 74 million people in North America who are not online. I don’t know how many of those have access to a TV, and Christian programming, but I’m sure the percentage is pretty high. I believe that the majority of religious programing out there is watched by senior adults.
I know the demographics on our own TV show, 70% of our audience is well over the age of 50. I’ve said this before, but the audience for Christian TV is literally dying off.
This stuff is made for older, aging audiences. Christians networks and program producers have settled into what is familiar, and ignored trends of younger potential viewers. Choosing instead to keep their existing audience, and cater to their viewing preferences. And, that audience faithfully sends their money in, and supports their efforts. But it doesn’t take the gift of prophecy to see that this model is doomed. It’s literally a matter of time. Either Christian networks/program producers change, or they will find themselves with no viewers at all in the next few decades.
We cannot wait five or 10 years. We need to be figuring out a new model of programming that is sustainable and reaches younger viewers. We are already missing whole generations with religious programming, even though these same generations consume media more than any generation before.
I am not saying every Christian TV show and network should immediately stop what they are doing and focus all their efforts on 18-34 year olds. That would ignore the millions who do watch current religious programming. But I am saying that if we rest content with just our current, dwindling audience, we will end up with no one watching at all. And that will come faster than you realize.
If you are a network, actively seek out programming that will appeal to younger audiences. If you are a program producer, produce a program that appeals to younger audiences. I am. You should, too.