TV Network Expert Looks at Industry Changes

Woman looking through options on television
Woman looking through options on television | Image by Stock-Asso/Shutterstock

With constant advancements in technology, the ways in which people consume entertainment and programming have evolved. Gone are the days of only watching shows on a traditional TV set, as we now have an array of viewing options available at our fingertips.

From smartphones to tablets, viewers can watch their favorite shows and movies wherever they are. Viewing modes have also expanded, with on-demand options and streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube TV, and Sling TV becoming increasingly popular. Additionally, streaming devices like Roku and Amazon Fire TV have become staples in many households, providing easy access to a variety of programming choices.

Bob Higley, a notable personality in the television industry, currently holds the position of vice president of affiliate relations at Total Christian Television (TCT) Network. With vast experience spanning over three decades in the industry, he has witnessed significant shifts in how viewers engage with programming.

In a recent interview with The Dallas Express, Higley discussed how the industry is expanding its viewing options, providing audiences with choices to suit their preferences. Additionally, Higley touched upon the importance of having wholesome outlets available for people looking for sources of family-friendly entertainment that offer positivity, inspiration, and hope.

With life often feeling like a pressure cooker, Higley explained that people want a break, and movies have always been a popular outlet and source of messaging.

“Can you imagine, if you unfold a story that inspires others, and people walk out refreshed, and they are motivated to do more for God and love others even more — this is powerful,” said Higley.

TCT is in over 56 million homes and has learned, like many other networks, that if it wants to continue to reach people, the company will have to meet viewers where they are rather than the other way around.

Despite their popularity, subscription services like Netflix are losing money. Netflix had a total debt of $14.3 billion on its balance sheet in September 2023, according to CompaniesMarketCap. In response to the company’s continued debt, Netflix has been forced to adapt to remain viable, incorporating an ad-supported version of its service, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

“Demand for ad-supported video-on-demand services (AVOD) is rising fast. AVOD penetration will reach 45.5% of U.S. consumers this year and exceed half the nation’s population by 2026. That popularity has prompted holdouts like Disney, Netflix, and HBO to launch ad-supported subscription tiers,” reported Insider Intelligence.

As the adoption of in-app advertising models continues to rise, various streaming services are generating revenue by charging advertisers to market on their platforms. One such player in this space is Tubi, which is owned by Fox Corporation. Tubi has over 50,000 movies and television shows with no subscription fees being passed on to its viewers.

“Tubi is a free (and legal) video streaming application. To keep our service free and legal, we include ads, which monetize the content that our partners, such as MGM, Lionsgate, and Paramount, provide to us!” the company’s website states.

Tubi offers its users around four to six minutes of advertisements for every hour of content consumed, allowing the company to generate significant revenue. Despite being one of the smaller streaming services, Tubi has been experiencing rapid growth. From 2021 to 2022, the platform’s monthly user base increased from 33 million to 51 million in just one year. Insider Intelligence predicted last spring that Tubi’s viewership would continue to grow and reach 55 million U.S. viewers in 2023.

Networks must adapt to stay relevant, otherwise, they will become extinct, Higley warned. This includes the move toward free-of-charge, in-app advertising models and paying attention to what viewers are watching.

“What the Lord showed me is that it is not all preaching and teaching. I started looking it up in the Bible, and Jesus spoke just as many sermons as he did parables. Jesus was communicating 50% with sermons and 50% with stories,” said Higley. “I thought, wow, this is how we should be programming a network.”

Balance also remains vital to engage all demographics. “We have to continue to create dramatic content,” said Higley.

This does not mean disrupting or dismantling the company’s existing structure. Instead, balance aims to enrich the outreach efforts by building upon the existing foundation. One such possibility is to create a second network with a contemporary name and marketing campaign. That network would include primarily AI-driven advertising skewed more towards “movies, series, documentaries, children’s programming, and so forth,” explained Higley.

“The way these streaming services work is their advertising is AI-based, targeting audiences by looking at demographics, IP addresses, ZIP codes, etc. All of these programmatic-type ads is what is driving revenue,” said Higley.

TCT currently has a 24/7 live stream service, as well as on-demand viewing, and is available on various satellite and cable packages. Additionally, TCT is on “iOS, Android, Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Android TV, Tizen, and Xbox One,” according to its website. Programming includes national and international teachings, music, movies, and other wholesome entertainment. The TCT Network programming schedule can be viewed here.

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