Faith-Themed Television Boosted by 'The Bible'
Queens College professor Mara Einstein believes cable's highly segmented audiences bode well for future TV productions based on religion. However, she said it will depend on the cyclical nature of religious programming.
"From what I've seen, there hasn't been enough brouhaha around it to believe [The Bible] is going to generate a whole other round," said Einstein, a professor of media studies. "It's the History Channel, which tends to skew older, so it's not surprising they would be able to attract an audience."
Film buff Robert Johnston thinks The Bible will keep the green light on for many Bible-themed productions. But the Fuller Seminary professor also doesn't agree it is the basis of renewed interest.
"Instead, the lure of dramatic storylines devoid of licensing fees but bringing with them a built-in audience of Jewish and Christian believers—and sympathizers—is a more likely motivator," said Johnston, founder of Reel Spirituality.
Regardless of how many doors open, there are still challenges. Calling the presence of famed producer Mark Burnett and actress Roma Downey keys to The Bible's success, culture critic Dick Staub said Christians should stand on their merits.
"They need to forget about exploiting media successes of others and concentrate on earning the right to be heard," Staub said. "That means creating original, compelling mainstream media."