Religious Programming Choices: Few outside the OTT (Over The Top) industry give much thought to the significant impact religious broadcasting is making on the video business. As highlighted in today’s [itvt] article by Tracy Swedlow, Faith & Family Partners with Cox, traditional broadcast outlets are still garnering a significant portion of the religious TV audience. And broadcasters are filling a perceived need for more ‘family based’ content. However, there are a number of OTT players carving out worldwide markets with similar programming broadcast over IPTV.
NeuLion Turnkey Technology: Nanci Li, CEO and founder of NeuLion, supplies turnkey IPTV solutions to niche media content producers, including servers and set top boxes. One of her first offerings was New York Islanders hockey channel (it helps if your husband is the owner of the team). NeuLion provides the servers and a $99 (SD) set top box. Most subscribers pay $14.99/mo. NeuLion seems to have a viable solution for those wanting to enter the OTT market while limiting their up front investment in servers and infrastructure. And their solution is easy for the average TV viewer to understand: hook up the box to your TV and connect to your broadband router. Their recent launch of an HD STB (720p and 1080i ) should place them in a position to deliver a better viewing experience for their subscribers.
Religious Content Aggregator Sky Angel: Sky Angel partnered with Neulion in 2007 when they selected NeuLion as their IPTV distributor. They have since grown to 80 channels of “Family programming” including religious themed movies, music videos and devotional messages. They have even secured a deal to distribute the powerful EWTN channel from the Catholic Church (with a traditional broadcast reach of 148 million households in 144 countries). Sky Angel seems to be filling a market niche with a successful business model. However, a scan of their total lineup indicates that their subscribers may want to watch more than just the Sunday church sermon.
Fox News and the Sportsman Channel: Though the majority of the SkyAngel channels do have a religious theme, subscribers can also select mainstream news and sports programming. Fox News and Fox Sports along with Discovery Kids and the Weather Channel are among the well known brands offered. They are even connecting with environmentalists with Planet Green.
A Future Threat to MSOs?: With the ATSC digital conversion making free HD available in most urban TV markets and OTT services coming of age, will US MSOs and Telcos be able to keep their market share? Religious centric programming may have, out of necessity, provided the market demand push for the availability of servers and equipment to get a foothold in the market. The key question is if they can sustain their growth and potentially ‘steal’ subscribers from the traditional players.
Keep pushing forward