You don’t need to be a prophet to see this burgeoning trend in television.
With “American Bible Challenge” breaking GSN’s ratings records, “The Bible” miniseries pulling over 10 million viewers a week on History, and Lifetime’s “Preachers’ Daughters” offering a cheekier take on religion, faith-friendly fare is having a big impact on general entertainment networks.
“Bible Challenge” exec producer Tom Forman has even quipped that he can’t believe it’s taken mainstream TV “this long” to realize that there is an untapped market with the Christian community, noting that almost three-quarters of the U.S. identifies itself as Christian.
Program, which bows on USA tonight at 10 p.m., offers Americans a second chance at their dreams, be it becoming a NASCAR driver or a sports photog, with the help of a skilled mentor. Show, created and produced by Charlie Ebersol and Justin Hochberg with THE Company, is hosted by devoutly religious former NFL star Kurt Warner.
“The Moment” is by no means an in-your-face, God-forward skein. Alexandra Shapiro, the cabler’s exec veep of marketing and digital, says that the show possesses “universal themes that resonate with a Christian audience,” however, which allots USA a bevy of marketing opportunities to promote the show.
Net took the program to hundreds of churches across America, offering advanced screenings and simulcast events with famed preacher Max Lucado and Warner, who is a celeb in his own right within the Christian community.
A similar marketing strategy was employed for Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s “The Bible,” which was screened at mega churches as well.
Word of mouth is an increasingly valuable commodity in today’s TV landscape, as many viewers ditch water cooler talk by consuming programming on their own time frame with DVR or streaming sites.
What’s more, promoting a show can be difficult given the constant noise of programming on cable lineups.
The question that every exec asks is: how do you get people to talk about your show?
For the creatives behind faith-friendly shows like “The Moment,” the answer lies in the Christian community, where church leaders are constantly looking for a fresh way to discuss established Christian values.
Previously, shows like “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and films like “The Blind Side” were exemplary of faith-friendly fare, but not marketed directly to Christian auds the way “The Bible” and now “The Moment” explicitly are.
“The Moment” has seized upon this niche in the marketplace, even launching an initiative with ministries dubbed “Make the Moment” that calls thousands upon thousands of ministry members to action within their communities. “Make the Moment” features a website — MaketheMoment.org — that churches can register with, and pair those in need with church members with skill sets that can help improve the lives of others. Site features an online questionnaire that churches can email to their parishioners, along with sermon outlines and clips from “The Moment” to help pastors “build enthusiasm for the campaign to their congregations,” according to USA.
“The show (‘The Moment’) is all about second chances, which is something we as Christians certainly understand because we serve a God of second chances,” Warner says. “‘Make the Moment’ puts churches in a better position to make second chances a reality for those in need in their communities.”
Ken Foreman, senior pastor of Cathedral of Faith in San Jose, Calif., adds: “I’ve never found something as simple and impactful to help us meet the needs of our neighbors as ‘Make the Moment’. It’s made it so easy for us to tackle outreach efforts from two perspectives: identifying the gifts and talents of those in our congregation and then matching them to the needs all around us.”
The uplifting message not only promotes positive, actionable values within the churches, but also of course touts the show, spreading the word about the cable net’s frosh unscripted skein.
“The Moment” is also being promoted on shows and stations that Christian auds are already watching. Warner will appear on “Bible Challenge” tonight at 9 p.m. before the USA bow of “The Moment.” History also offered “The Moment” promo time during its marathon of “The Bible” that led up to the mini’s finale on March 31.
Not all uplifting fare fits the bill, though, when it comes to marketing to Christian audiences.
Shapiro notes: “People have made a business out of this, of course. But, at the end of the day, the product has to deliver, and a faith-based campaign is not for every property. You need to have the appropriate content and it needs to ring true and feel authentic in order for it to be a success.”