US Christian News/Media/Journalism MarketM: Major Players in Content & Distribution

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Trends in Christian Media Content & Distribution

Trends in Christian Media Content & Distribution

We are living in a fast-paced world where technology is constantly evolving. The world has never been more connected. Fifty-seven percent of the world population is connected to the internet and 45% of the world population is actively using social media on a regular basis. Traditionally, churches made use of Christian radio, shows aired by Christian TV networks, books and newsletters. With growth in technology, even the Bible has almost been replaced with Bible apps. Churches have had to evolve. In an article by the Vatican, it concludes by saying, "...together with concrete policies and programs in this area... make appropriate use of media". It encourages churches to use social media as a tool to effectively communicate and connect with the people.

Video Marketing

  • Pro Media Fire was contracted by various churches in 2018 to assist in graphics and social media coverage. All churches involved experienced growth in number of new members and those attending special services. According to Pro Media Fire, video is effective when churches tailor the messages to their audience and to the audience's needs.
  • Instagram stories have become a popular way for users to consistently update their profiles, keep followers engaged, and, in some cases, even increase followers.

Digital Onboarding

  • Churches are now using digital tests to keep new members actively engaged and to ensure continuous growth. Personality tests are being used to easily identify a members passions and gifts and therefore easier to evaluate where they best fit. Journey Church has had success in locating people and their smooth settling in.

Digital Training

  • This trend is streamlining the volunteer process for church training.
  • Digital training is most suitable for group training and physical interaction with digital during the week., among others, offer a digital training platform for various clients and have received positive feedback from churches.

Interactive Church Services

  • Over the years, a lot of churches have embraced using Bible apps during sermons as opposed to using the actual Bible. The YouVersion Events feature, which provides the message notes, is only the beginning of a trend. BBC wrote a story that happened in 2008, of Reverend Pete Phillips, who was ejected from the city’s cathedral for reading the Bible on his mobile phone in the pews. Phones were not allowed in the holy place. Now, just a decade later, they allow people to take photos and use phones for devotional reasons, "whatever they want to do, says Phillip.
  • In the future, members will be able to engage during the message with live surveys and questions.

Social listening will give brands an edge

  • Engaging with an audience is key in marketing, but many marketers forget the importance of listening to those audience members. Social listening involves analyzing specific conversations, phrases, and other details on a brand's social-media pages and it's a growing component of competitive social strategies.
  • Rather than glancing at posts and guessing from there, social listening tools allow churches to identify patterns and collect meaningful interpretations of their data. These interpretations are an advantage can greatly benefit future marketing campaigns and give them an edge over other brands that are using social to blast their message instead of listening and engaging followers.

Creative Message Hot Spots

  • The hot spot is the climax moment in the message. Since it has become more difficult to stand out in social media, the clip form the Sunday message is laced with creative designs, music in the background and fancy video editing.
  • These hot spots are shareable content and advertising as church members and followers can share the climax of the message to their spheres of influence.
  • The future of Christian media is focused on video marketing. More Christians today opt to not attend church for service and instead watch it live on the church website or YouTube. For this reason, Churches are increasing their budgets for the creative content and cost for digital marketing.

Research strategy

To identify trends in Christian media content and distribution, we searched through industry publications and learned that the trends mentioned mirror general media content and distribution trends. Following that discovery, we focused on identifying how Christian churches are taking advantage of those general trends and tweaking them for their congregations. The trends listed here were the trends most often mentioned across both industry publications and general media content.
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US Christian Media Consumer Demographics.

In a 2018 Pew research report it was documented that 20% of Americans listen to or view religious media content. A similar report also revealed that one in five Americans share their religious faith on social media, which has increasingly become an effective way to reach out and connect with churchgoers.

Christian Media Consumption by Age

  • Individuals age 12 and up listen to about nine hours of Christian/Gospel programming per week.

Preference by Gender

  • Women between the ages of 25-44 make up the core of Gospel/Christian music listeners, while generating 22% of Salem's 13 Contemporary Christian radio station's revenue.
  • In a 2018 study of individuals ages 14-19, it was determined that females preferred more stylish and emotional content, while males were more inclined to vigorous styles.

Preference by Class

  • In a study of music preference across 95 US metropolitan regions, it was determined that working class and less educated people prefer to listen to country and gospel music.

Preference by Denomination

  • Most Catholic churches sing traditional songs from the 1500s through the 1800s, but some Catholics say it's okay to use modern music to evangelize.

US Christian Media Consumers

  • According to Forbes, the fastest-growing radio market in the United States is Christian music.
  • Christian music accounts for 3.6% of all album sales in the United States, and it's set to exceed the Latin music market.
  • According to Inside Radio, 3,139 full-time radio stations are religious programming. While another 505 stations air Black/Southern Gospel and Contemporary Gospel music.

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