SAT-7 is launching the Middle East’s first on-demand Christian video streaming service. Available worldwide in multiple languages, the new SAT-7 PLUS platform will enable the ministry to bring the life-changing message of the Gospel to a wider audience in the region, including a growing younger demographic engaging via mobile devices.
“I am pleased to say that from January 2021, SAT-7 will be the first Christian satellite television ministry to offer an on-demand streaming service and the only broadcaster to offer this in Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish,” says Rita El-Mounayer, SAT-7’s CEO. “This will give our audiences the ability to control their own SAT-7 experience, whenever and whatever device they are on. It will include a video-on-demand service for all of our channels.”
The platform, which functions similarly to popular secular streaming services, will be available on web browsers and as an app for all mobile devices. As well as access to new programs added daily and a back catalog of relevant programming from SAT-7 ARABIC, SAT-7 PARS, SAT-7 TÜRK, SAT-7 KIDS, and the education and social development brand SAT-7 ACADEMY, viewers will be able to watch the channels live via the platform. They can also use SAT-7 PLUS to communicate directly with channel Audience Relations staff via messaging.
“On-demand content is the expectation of so many media users in the region today. SAT-7 PLUS not only makes us relevant in the contemporary media field, but more importantly, it makes our programming more available and accessible,” says Rita El-Mounayer. “Imagine the potential for sharing the Gospel in difficult contexts. If one of our Christian viewers in Turkey, Egypt, Iran – or even Afghanistan or Yemen – wants to safely share Jesus with a friend, all they have to do is send them a link to an on-demand program that is culturally sensitive, instantly available, and in their own language,” she continues.
While satellite broadcasts remain SAT-7’s primary platform, as satellite television is very popular in the Middle East and North Africa and can reach audiences without an Internet connection, El-Mounayer explains that the launch of SAT-7 PLUS is an important step in building God’s kingdom in the region and an investment for the future. “We are pushing forward to attract Generation Z and beyond, who are more attached to their phones than television,” she says.
As many as 30 percent of youth in the region already choose to watch television through on-demand streaming, says Antoine Karam, SAT-7’s Broadcast and IT Director. But, he shares, “The content that is out there already is unfortunately not positive or life-giving. With SAT-7 PLUS, we aspire to break through the ‘dark box’ that mobile devices and other devices can be for young people, and bring hope using the same medium. As we know, just one word from Jesus can be a game-changer.”
In order to reach as many viewers as possible, the platform is available in a variety of bandwidths, including audio-only for the slowest Internet connections. Programs can also be downloaded to watch offline, so they can be viewed on the go or even when Internet is inconsistent. And to protect the security of viewers streaming from sensitive locations, no personal information will be required in order to access the content. To help viewers find more content relevant to their needs and interests, SAT-7 PLUS will offer recommendations for what to watch next based on the viewer’s preferences, while an age-appropriate content filter for children is also built in.
While SAT-7 PLUS is an important development towards SAT-7’s long-term goals, its launch also helps meet very real immediate needs. “With in-person fellowship still disrupted, the ability to find spiritual support and content that meets other holistic needs on screen and online is more important than ever,” says El-Mounayer. “SAT-7 PLUS will enable us to bring the hope of Jesus to more people, in more places, in 2021.”