Beliefnet
Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s this week’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith and media.

Dove Channel flies. We’re coming up on two years since Cinedigm teamed with the Dove Foundation to launch the faith and family-friendly streaming service Dove Channel.

In May of this year, Dove Channel spun off Dove KIDS, a new 24/7 ad-free channel featuring children’s movies, television series, animation, and educational programming aimed specifically at kids 5-12 years of age.  Like Dove Channel, Cinedigm is distributing through the web, as well as various over-the-top cable bundlers and platforms, including Apple’s iOS, Android, AppleTV, and Roku devices.

The launch of Dove KIDS followed last year’s successful launch of Dove NOW which delivers Dove programming via a traditional linear format. Dove NOW has become the most-watched programming selection on the Dove platform.

Dove Channel currently has a library of almost 1,400 pieces of content, including nearly 500 films and 900 television episodes approved by the Dove Foundation and ranks as the largest library of faith-based & family-friendly content in the OTT marketplace.

Dove NOW offers an a linear option for those folks who simply want to relax and watch TV without scrolling through programming menus. It airs kids programming blocks in the morning and early afternoon, and blocks containing more adult fare from fringe to prime time.

“With more than 80% of Facebook’s 1.2 billion audience now watching Facebook Live, and nearly 300 billion minutes streamed on Amazon’s Twitch platform last year, there is a massive consumer demand for live and linear programming in the OTT environment,” says Erick Opeka, Executive Vice President of Digital Networks for Cinedigm. “Adding linear channels improves content discovery, leads to longer watch times and engagement, reduces churn, and provides a great new source of revenue as we syndicate them to major partners.”

Cinedigm is also planning a significant expansion of linear offerings in the coming months, including channels developed for fandom and pop culture network CONtv and factual network Docurama, along with additional offerings leveraging Cinedigm’s vast library of horror, anime, and western content.

I recently had the opportunity to ask Cinedigm Entertainment Group President about what he foresees in Cinedigm’s future.

JWK: We’re coming up on two years since the launch of Dove Channel. How are things going in terms of where you thought you’d be at this time?

BILL SONDHEIM:  We are extremely pleased with our progress over the last 18 months. We have secured close to 100,000 active subscribers and have downloaded over 500,000 consumers that have accessed the site for content viewing and guidance in determining the appropriate content they wish to consume. We have been pleasantly surprised by the volume of customers we have acquired and the brand recognition we have built during this preliminary launch phase. We are equally enthused at the new digital services that are being launched and will carry OTT channels with Dove Channel being prominently promoted.

JWK: What kind of feedback have you been receiving from consumers?

BILL SONDHEIM: The consumers like the ease of navigating our Channel. The interface is very similar to Netflix and they are comfortable with its easy to use features. They also like the content and have commented on how many gems they have discovered as we tend to focus on titles below the Mega Studio Box Office hits. We will continue to gradually increase the title selection with higher profile “hits” but this audience is more interested in quality movies with strong values and meaningful storylines and seems less concerned with star power.

JWK:  You recently launched Dove NOW which is a linear version of Dove Channel that will also operate as an OTT channel. Does that indicate that, even in a streaming world, sometimes people just like to kick back and watch what happens to be on?

BILL SONDHEIM: You are totally right. We created the Dove Now as a pre-programmed feed for consumers that might have a hard time making a decision. It turns out that the Dove Now option is quickly becoming one of the most popular and frequently accessed content selections. This just reinforces that while many consumers like a wide selection and freedom of choice, many still are more comfortable following the lead of others. With Dove Channel you can have the way you like it!

JWK: You’ll soon be launching another linear spinoff called Dove KIDS. How will that differ from the mother ship?

BILL SONDHEIM: It will be very similar in concept to Dove Now. This will be a linear pre-programmed feed of content from the Dove Channel that focuses exclusively on kids themed content. Once again consumers can go and search the Dove Channel and find hundreds of hours of value driven kids content or now they can click on the Dove Kids icon and watch a pre-programmed stream of those shows and never have to make a single decision. It’s like an Autopilot so to speak.

JWK: Where do you see the Cinedigm universe of OTT channels. which also ConTV (aimed at Comic Con fanboys and fangirls) and Docurama (featuring a wide array of documentaries) being in five years?

BILL SONDHEIM: We believe in 5 years we will operate 10+ channels that all occupy a similar philosophy to our existing channels. They will focus on “niche content categories. Topic maters that have passionate fans and larger but definable audiences. We believe that audiences will of course subscribe to the big mega digital channels like Netflix but we also see each consumer has unique passions that will continue to drive the niche categories we hope to tap into.

John W. Kennedy is a writer/development consultant specializing in teleplays, screenplays and novelizations. He can be reached at john@jwkmedia.com.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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