Feel Good TV Ratings Surge!

With “The Heart of TV” as their tagline, Hallmark’s ratings are booming. Last year the channel saw substantial viewership growth—the only non-news cable channel in the top 15 to do so.

Heather Long at The Washington Post* opines, “. . . it really started surging in late 2015, right about the time the election—and the Trump phenomenon—took off. During election week, the Hallmark Channel was the fourth-most-watched channel on TV during prime time. Let that sink in. It had more prime-time viewers than MSNBC did, and it was just behind CNN and ESPN.”

It’s feel-good TV. Hallmark movies and series like When Calls the Heart, Chesapeake Shores, and Signed, Sealed and Delivered (pictured here) have happy endings. The main characters do the right thing. The problems get worked out. The guy and girl, whatever their age or grumpiness level at the start, always end up together.

“The environment [in our culture] is undeniably contentious,” says Bill Abbott, CEO of Crown Media. “We are a place where you can go and feel good . . . . We intentionally branded ourselves as the happy place.”

“The happy formula is working,” says Heather. “At a time when pundits are ready to proclaim the death of cable TV, Hallmark is starting up [its third channel]. That’s how much demand Hallmark believes there is for its family-friendly, feel-good shows.”

If you aren’t watching the Hallmark Channel, you might want to check it out!

*August 21,2017

The Medium is the Message

Media theorist Marshall McLuhan predicted the internet age and the rise of social media, coining the term “global village” which could be understood to be the internet. He believed that human history could be divided into four eras: the acoustic age, the literary age, the print age, and the electronic age.

McLuhan predicted the world was entering the fourth era—the electronic age—which would be characterized by everyone having access to the same information through technology. He also predicted that the method of communication rather than the information itself would come to be the most influential fact of the electronic age. He soon became a TV personality, making regular appearances to explain his theory of why “the medium is the message.”

His theories were met with controversy in academic circles throughout the 1970s and after his death in 1980. Then, in 1989, the internet was born, and McLuhan was looked upon with renewed interest.

As Marshall McLuhan predicted, now in the 21st century we have a world of information at our fingertips on smartphones, tablets, and laptops. The internet has facilitated a breaking down of global barriers and the democratization of knowledge.

McLuhan also professed to be a man of faith. In a discussion aired on ABC Radio, when asked if he was religious he replied, “I don’t know. I am, I hope, a very real, practising, believing Christian, I try to be . . . . there was a friend of mine who said ‘Well, since you don’t believe in Christianity (I was an agnostic) you could pray to God the Father . . . and simply ask to be shown.’ And so I did.”

In matters of faith, the medium—Jesus Christ—is truly the message.

The Telegraph Technology, 21 July 2017; ABC Radio, Sunday 17 July 2011

Afflicting the Comfortable . . . at Windrider

We’re called as Christians to give ourselves away, and that’s what we’ve got to work out.” These profound words from veteran movie producer Ralph Winter challenged students and filmmakers participating in a Windrider Forum discussion, a part of the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The panel was exploring the idea of “afflicting the comfortable” through thoughtfully crafted documentary films that may stimulate social action.

Winter, a Hollywood producer whose credits include blockbuster movies like X-Men and Star Trek, was asking, “How do we break out of [our natural tendency to want comfort] and discipline ourselves?” His insightful answer . . . “We’re called as Christians to give ourselves away.”

Craig Detweiler, former professor of communications and director of the Center for Entertainment, Media and Culture at Pepperdine University, expressed his perspective this way:

“Hollywood films comfort the afflicted—always happy, always a clean resolution, for the most part.

“Independent films afflict the comfortable. You come out feeling worse that when you entered. We don’t usually go to films for that. We don’t want to pay money to feel worse. But these are filmmakers with a prophetic gift who say, ‘This is what’s wrong with the world.’”

Detweiler says he comes to Sundance to cultivate empathy. “I come back here because I need to have my heart broken annually so I can go back to my comfort and work and minister out of that. That’s what the Windrider experience is.”

Dan Rupple, CEO of Mastermedia International, has partnered with the Windrider Forum at Sundance for 13 years, and Mastermedia is now a sponsor at Windrider.

When asked why it is important for Mastermedia to have a presence at Sundance and Windrider, Dan explained . . .

Robert Redford started the Sundance Film Festival to be a showcase for independent films that would never have the chance to be shown in theaters. Now 46,000 people come from all over the world. Hollywood executives come from all the major film studios looking for their next hit, and it’s a great opportunity for Mastermedia to connect with them.

Sundance is the launch pad for the talent of tomorrow . . . creatives, directors, writers, actors. For Mastermedia, it’s an opportunity to build a relationship and make a connection with someone very early in their career. It’s a chance to start a dialog, a conversation. The Sundance winner of today is the Oscar winner of tomorrow.

Our missional focus at Sundance is making connections that I can then go home and follow up with. This is often the beginning of trust relationships with these key contacts.

Paul, in the book of Acts, entered the marketplace in Athens and entered into the conversations they were having day after day about current ideologies . . . and that’s what we do at Sundance.

Peggy Rupple has served as Associate Director of the Windrider Forum for the past 14 years. Mastermedia International is a sponsor of the Windrider Forum.