Jared Thurmon, Strategic Partnerships Liaison recently interviewed Andre Brink, Digital Media Director for Adventist Review/Adventist World.
Q. Andre, why did Adventist Review and Adventist World create ARtv? Does the world really need more video content?
A. What’s driving us is the realization that we can no longer expect people to come to us to view our content in the format we may prefer. We have to go to them. We also realized that many prefer visual content to reading these days. The Lord impressed James White with the unction to give Present Truth to Gods people. This was pre-Adventist church mind you. So we feel we need to up our game and become as innovative as possible in how we tell stories and build people’s faith. What better way than through video, especially short-form video.
Q. Do you have a specific target audience, or is ARtv for everyone?
A. I have a passion for the billions of people living in large cities around the world. The cities are becoming the place where we must engage with the world, and specifically, with Millennials. More than 50% of the population now living in cities around the world are Millennials. In less than 10 years, they’ll represent the majority of people in the workforce.
Q. So what’s new about how ARtv will reach Millennials living in these cities?
A. Having worked in Adventist media for a long time, it became evident that there was a niche for media that would reach busy people. Our team has spent countless hours discovering ways to insert the vision of the Advent Movement into the lives of these individuals. What we did was we began to put ourselves in their shoes. Where do they live? Do they own a car? Are they using public transportation? What media channels are they currently engaging with? What do the studies show? Short, on-demand content on convenient platforms seem to be the answer for delivering content that fits into the lives of such individuals.
Q. How does ARtv relate with the redesign last year of the Adventist Review magazine and website?
A. Adventist Review Ministries began this journey by redesigning the monthly issues of AR and how often they are published. For decades we published four times per month: now we publish once a month, with an expanded edition and a completely new look. The response has been very positive.
About a year ago, we began to increase the attention we’re giving to digital platforms. That’s really the reason why I’m now here on this team. It began with our mobile-friendly Adventist Review website and now continues with our mobile-friendly Adventist World website being launched in October in at least 9 languages.
Q. So in light of Adventist Review’s intention to engage with Millennials in large cities, or others with an interest in media on demand, what types of platforms will ARtv be available on?
A. It is a well-known fact that there are more mobile devices in the world than people. For many, this is their main form of communication and social interaction. No other technology has impacted us like the mobile phone. You know, this even goes beyond the cities into the remote corners of the earth. We simply have to go where they are.
One of the biggest drivers of our content on the Adventist Review and Adventist World websites is that now more than 70% of our traffic is via mobile devices.
Knowing that more and more people—and especially Millennials—are “cord cutters,” we had to find a way to get into their lives via that mobile device and the streaming platforms they’re engaging with. These include Apple TV, Roku and Samsung TV primarily. We are also currently developing an Amazon Fire TV app. We arrived at a model like a Netflix full of short-form, on-demand, sharable content. The average viewing length of videos viewed on mobile today is less than 3 minutes. We’re seeking to populate this realm with great Adventist content. The church has an amazing ministry with the Hope Channel, and ARtv will be a wonderful complement to the tremendous work that Hope is doing. We’re distinguishing our product by going after those who may not have satellite or television but are engaging with short form mobile-ready, on-demand videos.
Q. What about those who are too busy to sit down and watch or read something? Anything for the listeners of the world?
A. Fair enough! So we realized that in addition to print and video, many would be able to engage with us via audio and podcast episodes. Imagine the moments now available to someone in a car, on a jog, or on a train listening to a podcast from Adventist Review or Adventist World. In fact, just in the last few months, we’ve begun producing some podcasts with Adventist World Radio. We have several new podcast shows in development.
Q. How are you gathering content? From the looks of it, there are hundreds of videos already available on ARtv.
A. We’ve only posted a portion of what we already have. New episodes will be released weekly. But we’re not doing this by ourselves. We’ve formed agreements and relationships with as many Adventist entities around the world as possible who are already creating amazing content. We’ve also reached out to ministries here at the General Conference as well as supporting ministries around the church. The list is simply amazing: there are more than 40 ministries we’re working closely with and getting content from. Many independent filmmakers are producing content for us and providing their content too.
Our vision is to use the most effective media to reach our target demographic with the best on-demand video content available. To do that, we’ve got to work closely with every other Adventist media outlet to create and curate content.
As we’ve shared our vision with others, we’ve seen an amazingly enthusiastic response of collaboration and cooperation.
We also realize that to grow this to the scale of mission effectiveness, we can’t expect the church to underwrite all the expense, so we’ve sought and found advertising and content creation partners. We’re making great strides. We’re seeking to become a financially self-sustaining ministry inside the unified church structure.
Q. Ok last question. What’s the most exciting project you see coming out on ARtv in the next few months?
A. The much acclaimed series – Animal Encounters, Season 1—which was filmed mostly in South Africa can be viewed on ARtv. But in December, we’re filming a couple of short videos, this time in Virtual Reality. The most exciting episode may end up being the cage dive with Great White Sharks. We’re doing all we can to bring the most engaging content we can to the most cutting edge digital platforms available to us. I convinced that there are hundreds of thousands of Adventists—and their friends—who will enjoy and be blessed by ARtv. Click here to check out ARtv.