Faith-based programs for kids and teens have been around for decades. But where these shows have traditionally been relegated to home video or Saturday-morning blocks, religious networks today are beefing up lineups and launching dedicated channels for young believers.
Digital cable and direct-broadcast satellite (DBS) services have dramatically expanded channel capacity, while broadband has enabled streaming video on the Web, all providing greater venues for religious content.
“We have always had a huge commitment to kids programming, and our youth block was always on Friday or late Saturday nights with extreme sports and music-video shows,” says Paul Crouch Jr., VP of administration at Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), which in December launched kids network Smile of a Child. “But now, with the proliferation of technology and the fact that we can multicast over our digital transmitters and the cable systems are expanding and can take more channels, we decided to take what we already had and expand it into a 24/7 channel.”
That includes teen network JCTV, which TBN launched in 2002.
“The demographic we are trying to reach is into music,” says JCTV Programming Director Mark McCallie. “We do have action sports and reality shows. But, similar to MTV, it will always be music-driven.”
The Logan Show , now in its second season on JCTV, is aimed at reaching beyond music-driven programming. Hosted by former Nickelodeon host Logan Sekulow, 20, the show is something of a Christian version of Late Night With Conan O’Brien , with comedy skits and musical performers.