As COVID-induced isolation drives more and more people to their phones, a Christian broadcaster is launching the first-ever faith-based video-on-demand service in the Middle East and North Africa.
Through its new free offering, Cyprus-based Christian broadcaster SAT-7 is catering to the needs of those suffering the effects of the spreading coronavirus pandemic and skyrocketing unemployment in the volatile (primarily Muslim) region of the Middle East – also known as the "Powder Keg" – and North Africa. The objective is that people in those regions, especially teens and young adults, can share in the hope of the gospel and watch at any time and any place.
"The SAT-7 PLUS video streaming service will be a 'game-changer,' giving millions living in countries closed to the gospel the ability to watch culturally sensitive Christian programs whenever they want in their own language – and without being tracked," SAT-7 announced in its press release.
SAT-7 CEO Rita El-Mounayer is excited about the new opportunities that have opened up in the midst of the global health crisis.
"For millions stuck at home and desperate to see signs of hope in their world, satellite television and online streaming can be their life support," El-Mounayer proclaimed in the release. "This year, SAT-7 PLUS will bring the hope of Jesus to more people in more places – directly into homes across the Middle East and North Africa."
Because of the explosive growth of on-demand video streaming on smartphones, tablets and smart TVs in the Powder Keg and Saharan Africa over the past year, SAT-7 PLUS director Antoine Karam is confident the new service will be a blessing to many going through difficult times in the region – especially those in their late teens and early 20s, commonly known as Gen Z.
"People are anxious to see real hope right now, and now they'll be able to access hope all day, every day, with this free on-demand service," Karam asserted.
COVID-19, coupled with Christian persecution across this area, has created the perfect storm that is driving many to their electronic devices to find relief, comfort, and solutions for the hardship and suffering in their lives.
"Amid strict lockdowns, millions in Iran, Turkey, Syria, Egypt and other countries turn to SAT-7 for emotional and spiritual support, as well as health advice, through programs in the local languages of Farsi, Turkish and Arabic," the Christian broadcaster informed. "In places closed to Christian activity, satellite television and online services cross borders, bringing the message of gospel hope seen through the lives of local Christians straight into people's homes."
Viewers who are suicidal, giving up on life, and living in fear of COVID-19 see the network's presenters – all local Christians who broadcast from studios located in the Middle East and North Africa – as a lifeline when they call in or message on social media to chat with SAT-7 team members and receive encouragement in real-time.
Connecting with teens and young adults – who regularly stream video content on their phones and mobile devices for hours – is a focal point of show hosts' ministry.
"We aim to break through the 'dark box' that mobile devices can be for young people and bring them hope using the same technology," Karam shared. "Just one word from Jesus can be a game-changer."
As COVID set in last year, SAT-7 KIDS, SAT-7 ACADEMY (education) and all the network's other channels witnessed a huge uptick in viewership and social media activity.