Digital business and ministry is the future of Christian communication.
So, what developments should we be watching?
There are two emerging technology trends that have implications for everyone in media.
The first: there is definitive evidence that more people are dropping cable and streaming their content on demand.
The second: there is renewed media interest in podcasting.
My gut tells me that every Christian communicator should keep an eye on these developments. Tracking them will be a source of inspiration and help you make plans for 2015.
Trend 1: Cord cutting is accelerating
According to Wall Street research firm MoffetNathanson, more homes and businesses have dropped pay-TV service in the first three quarters of this year than in the whole of last year.
Every major cable and satellite-TV provider is experiencing defections. TV channel-owners are feeling the pain too, as customers cancel subscriptions.
Where are people going? “Over the top” streaming video services, that continue to gain in popularity, such as Netflix, Hulu, and the devices that power them, like Google Chromecast and Apple TV.
In October, HBO announced that they would turn on a web-based streaming, over the top service, next year. Access to content would not require a cable package.
Trend 2: Podcasting is making a comeback
Podcasting became hot early in the decade with the birth of the iPod. Listeners would subscribe to their favorite radio shows, download a few hours, and listen later offline.
With the rise of web video and video podcasting, audio podcasting took a back seat, except for radio shows as podcasts.
Today, smartphones and ubiquitous WiFi are making podcasts more accessible. Downloading is not required, and unlike streaming radio which is more like traditional radio, listeners can consume the programs they love when they want.
The audience is getting the hang of it. Edison Research is reporting that 15% of Americans have listened to a podcast in the past month, up from 9% in 2008.
Six takeaways for Christian communicators
- “Platform-as-a-service” video and audio technologies are more readily available than ever before. Audiences get the faith content they love when they want. Communicators can engage and interact with those audiences on multiple screens and devices.
- Audience appetite is growing for high-quality on-demand video and audio content. An increasing number of producers are creating episodic programming in multiple languages, in a variety of creative formats.
- As better content is produced and more people are accessing that content on digital devices and multiple screens, it is creating huge opportunities to curate and aggregate content, making it easier for audiences to find and consume.
- Christian Radio and TV audiences have always been loyal and attentive to their favorite programs, making host-driven advertising and sponsor recognition a popular promotional device. Program host credibility can also be applied by content owners and distributors to the content to take advantage of the high level of engagement that audiences are giving to on demand faith content.
- In the past, people would download content but not always consume it. That issue dissolves when content is consumed on connected mobile devices while people are doing everything from work to play.
- There is a large diversity of voices producing faith oriented video and audio, not currently seen and heard on TV and Radio, that makes creating new channels of content a programmer’s dream.
Cutting the cord and a podcasting renaissance have the potential to altar the landscape of Christian communication even further. Keeping an eye on the trends will position you for using the emerging technologies efficiently and effectively for the greatest kingdom impact.