January 3, 2014 - An exciting opportunity has opened up for Beyond Today. The United Church of God has secured an agreement with ION Television to run Beyond Today on Sundays at 9:00 a.m. EST for a ten-week test period. We will be reaching 50 million households on ION cable and satellite. (This does not include their broadcast stations.)
Commencing on Sunday, January 19, 2014, the program will air at 9:00 a.m. EST. ION is willing to extend this time period as needed and for additional testing, and with reasonable notice. Dr. Charles Stanley is the lead-in to our program, which is in our favor. He has a very good audience.
Neilsen rankings show ION in the top 15 cable systems. WGN America ranks approximately 37th. Also, ION will be providing a dual-feed service, meaning that it will air at 9 a.m. ET and at 9 a.m. PT (three hours later). WGN only offered a single-feed, meaning Beyond Today has been airing at 5:30 a.m. PT—not ideal. Overall, and because of this, WGNA has approximately one third of ION’s dual-feed audience.
By way of background: our plan is to do A/B testing of WGN against ION on Sunday mornings, and as soon as we see which network is performing the best, we’ll drop the other. This initial double expenditure will be stopped as soon as we know. We are cutting back somewhat on Internet advertising for a while to make up the difference and to stay within our overall media department budget.
As a bonus, ION will also provide 30-second promotional opportunities to air prior to the program’s start date and will continue the promotional airings throughout the test period, subject to available time slots. In addition, our agent is pleased to place and be responsible for additional bonused airings of Beyond Today during this test period in five select ION broadcast owned and operated markets. Pending confirmation of availability of their time slots matching the cable platform, these markets will be Denver, Salt Lake City, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and San Francisco. These five broadcast markets will reach an additional 6 million households.
Please pray for the success of this test, and that it will become apparent very quickly which of the two networks should be our choice. We cannot support the expenditure of running both for very long.
Update: More Stations Added to the ION Television Test
January 10, 2014 - We reported earlier on a new opportunity for Beyond Today to broadcast on the ION Television network beginning January 19. We now have additional details on this important United Church of God endeavor as we work diligently to preach the gospel of God’s Kingdom.
It’s a family effort
But first, let us emphasize that the work being done at the home office to preach the gospel of the Kingdom, is actually a family effort. It involves all of us as His children. The work is not done by only a few employees in Cincinnati—rather it is a collective task. We must be dedicated to His Way in our family project of preaching the “good news.”
So, please make sure you beseech God each day for His blessings on the work of our hands, as we reach out to the world with His message of hope for humanity. And, please ensure that you are close to Him in prayer, study and fasting—that He may truly bless our work, our joint family effort, in preparing for His Kingdom.
It appears from new developments this past week, that God is blessing our attempt to spend His money wisely. ION Television has sweetened their original offer by providing an additional 22 broadcast markets—in addition to the five previously announced being donated by our agency, Associated Media.
With further negotiated leveraging by Associated Media, we now have ION Media Network determined to make our ten-week test against WGN America a success. A total of 27 owned and operated (O&O) broadcast markets are included with the cable and satellite platform we’ve purchased. That is half of ION’s broadcast O&Os.
This additional broadcast placement means we will be reaching 20,586,240 households (HH) or 17.8* percent of the national U.S. population through free, over-the-air, non-subscription television. [*According to Nielsen.] Please see the channel listing down below for actual stations and channel numbers.
And, there is more being offered. While ION’s cable platform includes DISH Network & DirecTV, we were limited to 85 percent of the satellite environment (all related to packages people choose). But as of Wednesday, ION has made additional purchases to expand their satellite reach to become 100 percent. So now, anyone with either of these two satellite providers can receive Beyond Today! This increases total households by more than 5 million, and at no additional cost to us.
Fishes and loaves
So, here is the total coverage: We will be reaching 75.6 million households: (55 million from the cable/satellite platform and 20.6 million O&O HH). By reaching nearly 76 million households, translating households to people, means we are potentially reaching about 227 million people in the U.S.
We have very limited financial resources to preach the gospel. We have to spend every cent wisely. But the blessings are there. As Scripture teaches us, and as Christ taught His disciples, He can multiply the equivalent “fishes and loaves” out of the meager budget we have. As we sow the seed and waterit, He can provide the increase! But, we have to show Him that we, as a Church, are committed to follow-through with dedicated prayer and enthusiasm towards what He’d have us do.
And so, in a few days we start our 10-week A/B test.
There may be a couple of exceptions, but generally the objective is for ION to place all of our Beyond Today programs to follow “In Touch Ministries” by Dr. Charles Stanley for this test period. So far ION has moved or pre-empted other programs to accommodate us, with only a few exceptions.
Here is a recap of airing times (depending on the media used):
National Cable Platform
- Cable is a “triple feed” so it will show at 9 a.m. Eastern & Pacific, and at 8 a.m. Central & Mountain (same as on the national broadcast stations).
- Satellite (DISH Network 216 & DirecTV 305) are single feed nationally so it will be 9 a.m. EST, 8 a.m. CST, 7 a.m. MST and 6 a.m. PST.
(Note: In the case of San Francisco, they have local–to–local coverage on a satellite provider! This extra coverage means that while the national ION feed on DirecTV 305 and DISH 216 would run at 9 a.m. EST, 7 a.m. MST and 6 a.m. PST time, the satellite homes in the markets with ION O&O broadcast stations have a second ION channel that is theirs too. On this local O&O channel position, the program would run at the same time as the broadcast station in the market. In this case, that would be 8 a.m. for MST and 9 a.m. for PST)
AT&T U-Verse and Verizon’s FiOS vary depending on the market. But, mostly these are treated the same as cable—but there are exceptions, so consult the channel finder on www.iontelevison.com based on individual zip codes.
National Broadcast Owned & Operated Stations (54 possible)
We have 27 O&Os contracted, which are half of ION’s O&O stations. These over-the-air broadcast stations are free and not subscriber-based. These are available on cable and over-the-air at 9 a.m. Eastern & Pacific, and at 8 a.m. Central & Mountain. Below is a channel listing of ION stations currently contracted to air Beyond Today starting January 19. Please click on the image for a larger view.
ION Media Network is a unique system and is growing rapidly. However, they are not in every market with every media platform. So to find your channel position for ION TV where you live, please go to www.iontelevision.com and use the Web tool on the home page called “Channel Finder.” Enter your zip code and you can find how to view it.
If it shows you cannot see it where you live, it will suggest that you go to your cable carrier (it shows the phone number) and call them to ask if they will carry ION TV. (Sometimes when cable providers are asked by enough people, they may accommodate their customers.)
Thank you for your prayers
Here at the United Church of God home office, and in particular in Media and Communications Services, we thank you for your prayer and diligent support for our humble work to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Please don’t underestimate the effect you have in God’s work. Please continue to pray for God’s blessings. We thank you very much for being a part of this “family effort!”