Religions Embrace Broadcast TV and Streaming to Spread their Message, Will You Watch?
World Religions’ Live Streaming Content and Video-on-Demand
With over 118 million households having access to television around the world, religious broadcasting is a fairly familiar concept.
Now the scope of religious broadcasting has widened, with the rise of streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, the prevalence of Video on Demand (VOD), the centrality of YouTube in people’s everyday viewing habits, and the diversification of the video function of the internet. Viewing is no longer limited to your television set via cable or antenna, but is available through a variety of devices, such as AppleTV, Roku, fireTV and Chromecast, and available for purchase through iTunes and Google Play. Churches now have the capability to stream their worship services live, and present a cornucopia of religious programming, including movies, features, genre-based shows, documentaries, talk shows, music videos, animation and more, all focused on inspiring, influencing and shaping the audience’s religious worldview.
I am personally amazed at the breadth of options in religious programming today, and it is expanding more than ever due to the emergence of different types of media. When I was a child in the 1980’s, choices were few and programming was less diverse.
Religions Embrace Broadcast TV and Streaming to Spread their Message, Will You Watch?[/tweetthis]
World Religion News will be presenting such live stream channels and Video on Demand (VOD) programming, focusing on some of the most prominent and resonant channels that make a difference in the landscape of religious broadcasting every day. These organizations and their broadcasting apparatus reach people from all walks of life on a daily basis, broadening their minds on religious topics, touching their spirit with doses of inspiration, and extending an avenue to provide assistance to those who need it the most.
There are definitely those days that an uplifting song, an inspirational scripture, or a feel-good drama is all I need as a pick-me-up.
EWTN Global Catholic Network
Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) has been broadcasting for 36 years and has 11 networks broadcasting 24/7 to millions of households in more than 145 countries and territories. EWTN programming is also available on their website at www.ewtn.com. Mother M. Angelica, a Poor Clare nun who started airing a series of her talks on a local Birmingham, Alabama television station, founded the Catholic TV network in the 1960s. From there she built her own TV studio on monastery property in Irondale, where the current EWTN still resides. EWTN’S online live stream can be found here.
Mother M. Angelica is a fixture in my childhood that I can’t forget, I remember my grandmother watching her regularly when I stayed in her home.
Vatican News Channel
The Vatican News Channel provides information about Pope Francis’ primary activities and significant Vatican events. It was opened on December 16, 2017, although broadcasting only intermittently when there are ongoing events in the Vatican. It is a service provided by the Vatican Secretariat for Communication. The Vatican’s foray into broadcasting is a major leap forward. It’s definitely a good thing that Pope Francis has a direct line of communication to his followers, in addition to his social media accounts. Pope Francis continues to cement his legacy as a progressive, technology-oriented Pope.
The Scientology Network
Launched on March 12, 2018, the Scientology Network is the Church of Scientology’s first official broadcast TV network, available on DirecTV in the United States and streaming around the globe at http://www.scientology.tv. Surprisingly, the first evening of broadcast was introduced by Scientology ecclesiastical leader and Chairman of the Board David Miscavige, who is rarely seen in broadcast media. The channel debuted with original programming including Inside Scientology, Meet a Scientologist, I am a Scientologist, Voices for Humanity, Destination: Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard: In His Own Voice. The Scientology Network is also available on the following streaming devices: Apple TV, fireTV, Roku and various mobile apps for smartphones and tablets. Meet a Scientologist is one of the more interesting shows, giving a glimpse into the lives of successful Scientologists and how they’ve built their businesses. The documentary-style is at times reminiscent of VH1’s Behind the Music.
Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN)
TBN is Christian-based TV network that operates globally and is the “world’s largest religious television network” running as an independent entity. TBN broadcasts from a diversified set of Christian groups, including evangelical, traditional Protestant and Catholic denominations, non-profit charities and Messianic Jewish. Christian media personalities also host many programs. The network offers original programming and various faith-based films. Viewers can watch live TBN online at and the network also offers over 900 programs of VOD from TBN’s library. As a Christian myself, I know that a lot of Christians consider TBN the main go-to for Christian TV.
The Mormon Channel is the official media channel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is located in Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah. They offer 24-hour programming, using the vast archives of the Church for content, and also produce new content. New content includes Mormon Channel Studio, Book of Mormon Stories, Driven in Detroit: Bridges to Self-Reliance, and Gospel Solutions for Families. They also stream LDS General Conferences, with one from October 2017 currently featured on their YouTube channel. The Mormon Channel is available on iTunes, YouTube, Roku, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter. Find the Mormon Channel online at mormonchannel.org/. The diversity of Mormon Channel programming is pretty impressive, and they offer a lot of great content to those who would like to know more about the Mormon Church.
Hillsong Channel broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, featuring worship music from Hillsong United, events in Hillsong Church, and teachings from Pastors Brian and Bobbie Houston and the global Hillsong team, including Joel Osteen, Billy Graham, John Gray, Joseph Prince, Joyce Meyer, TD Jakes, and Steven Furtick. The channel’s programming also includes Hillsong’s conferences, exclusive interview, documentaries, kids’ shows and youth programming. Watch it live online at hillsongchannel.com/. I personally love Hillsong music – they’re a constant in my playlists.
The Buddhist TV Live Stream
The Buddhist TV Live Stream is the first of its kind in Sri Lanka. The channel studios are located at Sri Sambodhi Viharaya. Programming is scheduled 24 hours a day, and according to its official website, the network “was established to disseminate the Dhamma and to create and awareness of the sacred teachings of the Supremely Enlightened Buddha, within Sri Lanka and throughout the world.” When I was doing my research, I was delighted to know that there is Buddhist TV. I’ve always been curious about its teachings, having come across the concept of mindfulness in the books that I’ve read.
JW (Jehovah’s Witnesses) Broadcasting
JW.org offers free online TV, video, and audio streaming of bible-based education to an international audience. The network was launched in 2014 and is now available in over 90 languages. TV.JW.org has both scheduled broadcasts and on demand video and audio. The internet station airs Christian movies, videos, news, and historical documentaries. Audio programs include piano, orchestral, and choral renditions of Christian music. Viewers can watch JW programming at tv.jw.org. JW TV also streams through fireTV, Apple TV and Roku. JW programming is a fairly recent phenomenon, and I’m glad that Jehovah’s Witnesses have a representation in the broadcasting landscape.
Islam Channel broadcasts from London and provides alternative news, current affairs and entertainment in the perspective of Islam. It was launched in 2004 and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While it focuses on the Islamic point-of-view, programs are aimed towards both Muslim and non-Muslim viewers. Programs include news analysis, religious and spiritual series, lifestyle shows and investigative documentaries. The channel live streams on the Islam Channel website. We truly need a channel like this in these times, when a lot of cultural misconception prevails about Islam.
The Sikh Channel
Situated in Europe, the Sikh Channel is the first network to broadcast Sikh religious and cultural shows all day, every day, around the world. According to its website, “the Sikh Channel has managed to fill a huge void within the world of television, being the first channel to focus upon the essence of the Sikh faith, providing a European free-to-air television platform for Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike.” The website goes on to state that the channel has “become an integral part” of viewers’ lives. The channel is available online at sikhchannel.tv and via iOS and Android apps. It also offers a YouTube Video On-Demand service. This is a great avenue for Sikhs to come together, access information, and enjoy entertainment related to their faith. Sikhs are another misunderstood religious group who need to utilize media outlets to generate awareness on their beliefs.
CBN, founded by tele-evangelist Pat Roberson, began 55 years ago on January 11, 1960 and was the first and only Christian broadcasting network at that time. Because Robertson refused commercial advertisements, the network was at first funded via telethon fundraising. 700 supporters would give 10 dollars each, to make the network’s $7,000 budget, which would later be called the 700 Club. The well-known 700 Club program was then created and continues to be aired in different networks today. Currently, CBN offers programming by cable, broadcast and satellite to about 200 countries. The network features news, information, and interviews to a daily audience of about one million viewers, according to its website. CBN has been around for the most of my life, can you believe it? I remember staying up on weekends and watching the 700 club when all regular programming was done. I think I may have even called the prayer line!
Jewish Life TV (JLTV)
JLTV is the first and only round-the-clock Jewish-themed television channel, offering movies, documentaries, news, sports, comedy, entertainment and special events from all over the world. Some programs include, Would Jew Guess?, Jewish Life News, and Saturday Night at the Movies. JLTV is available on DirecTV. Jewish comedy and entertainment sound really interesting to me, I haven’t seen that kind of programming on regular TV.
Although Netflix began as a DVD-by-mail company, it is now known as one of the biggest streaming media and video-on-demand services around the world. Founded in 1997 in California, it introduced streaming media in 2007. As of January 2018, Netflix boasts of 117 million subscribers with 54 million in the United States. It’s first original series, Lillyhammer debuted in 2012.
Many viewers interested in faith-based, inspirational programming also go to Netflix for religious movies and documentaries. I know I do! Netflix has a broad range of religion-themed content, from 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama to Meet the Mormons. Here is a sampling of some religious content on Netflix:
10 Questions for the Dalai Lama
10 Questions for the Dalai Lama is a documentary film released in 2006. The film features filmmaker Rick Ray meeting with the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso at his monastery in Dharamsala, India. An interview with the Dalai Lama, his biography, a history of modern Tibet and Ray’s process in getting the interview are shown in the documentary.
The Prince of Egypt
The Prince of Egypt, released in 1998, is an animated musical that was produced and released by DreamWorks. It is an adaptation of the Book of Exodus and narrates the life of biblical figure Moses, from being a prince of Egypt to the one who would lead the children of Israel out of Egypt.
Meet the Mormons
Meet the Mormons is a 2014 film highlighting the lives of six members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, focusing on their faith and service as Mormons. It is also available on iTunes, Google Play and VUDU.
Son of God
Son of God is an epic biblical drama 2014 film that follows Jesus’ life from his humble birth to his resurrection. It is a follow-up to the 2013 ten-hour mini-series The Bible. It was produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.
The Case for Christ
This 2017 film is about an investigative reporter who sets out to factually disprove his wife’s undaunted belief in Christianity. Directed by Jon Gunn and written by Brian Bird it based on a true story that is the subject of the 1998 book of the same name, written by Lee Strobel.
Pureflix is video streaming service, similar to Netflix, focused on Christ-centered movies and content. It is owned and operated by Christian movie studio Pureflix, whose vision is “to influence the global culture for Christ though media” and their mission is “to be the world leader in producing and distributing faith and family media.” Pureflix features movies for children, teens and adults, documentaries, how-to’s, educational, health and fitness, sports and travel shows.
I love Pureflix because they produced one of my favorite Christian movies of all time – God’s Not Dead.
- Vatican News Channel
- Taylor & Francis Online
- 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama
- The Case for Christ