The Church of Scientology may have its own TV channel, so you’d expect shows like “Meet a Scientologist” and “Voices for Humanity” to be interrupted by commercials.
But there are no ads on the station that launched on Monday on DirecTV and other online platforms — and that’s by design.
“There is no outside advertising because, unlike a commercial channel, the goal isn’t to generate revenue,” a Scientology spokesperson told TheWrap. “Our mission is to answer people’s questions.”
The Church of Scientology further explained its presence by the fact that “someone searches online for ‘Scientology’ every six seconds,” per the network’s “About” page.
And Scientology Network insists that it “does not seek to preach, convince or convert, but simply inform.”
Nor does the channel come preloaded on the devices that carry it: A user has to proactively find and download Scientology Network on Apple TV, for example.
Scientology Network is also currently available on Scientology.TV, DirecTV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV, as well as via a mobile app download. Before you go and petition those guys (like many people did over NRA TV), keep in mind that Scientology Channel is subject to the same guidelines as any other content provider.
Like it or not, the programming does not violate any terms of service. Don’t want to watch? Ignore it.
And no, Scientology Channel doesn’t get paid by those streaming platforms to carry the network, nor does the church pay them (much) for the space. Apple TV, again for example, only charges the Scientology channel its standard $99 annual fee for developers.
The deal with DirecTV is different, as Scientology Network occupies an actual channel. All the AT&T-owned satellite provider would tell us about their agreement though is “We began offering TSN starting at 8 p.m. EDT [Monday] night.”
The Church itself did not respond to our requests for comment on the nature of its TV and streaming deals, though people identified as “industry insiders” by the Daily Beast have speculated that Scientology pays DirecTV roughly $4 million annually in carriage fees.
The Scientology Network airs 24/7, but it only currently has six original series — yeah, there are a lot of reruns right now, and a lot of it feels like one giant infomercial. (Entertainment and talk shows are coming, the channel teases, as is an investigative series, “Freedom TV.”)
Here are the six shows that were available at launch, with all descriptions in Scientology’s own words:
- “Inside Scientology”–takes viewers behind the scenes of the religion–its international spiritual headquarters and cutting-edge publishing houses, what happens on a typical day at a Church of Scientology and the meticulous, painstaking efforts to preserve 75 million words of our Founder L. Ron Hubbard’s religious writings and recordings for future generations.
- “Meet a Scientologist”–an in-depth look into the lives of individual Scientologists from the frontiers of modern art, science, sports, entertainment and more.
- “I am a Scientologist”–features dozens of Scientologists from every corner of the world and every imaginable occupation, giving personal accounts of how their lives have been enriched.
- “Voices for Humanity”–short documentaries introducing change-makers from all faiths, cultures and nations as they extend help to their communities through Scientology-sponsored humanitarian programs.
- “Destination: Scientology”–each episode brings the viewer inside a new Church of Scientology, showcasing the diversity of our Churches and the cooperation that weaves every Church of Scientology into the local community fabric.
- “L. Ron Hubbard: In His Own Voice”–presents the religion’s Founder to the world. Scientology remains the only major religion with the voice of its Founder intact, recorded in public lectures delivered over the course of a quarter-century. This series chronicles the life of L. Ron Hubbard through autobiographical vignettes in his own words and in his own voice.
The multiplatform channel/marketing tool also boasts a bunch of themed movies, including those adapted from Hubbard’s written work.
Scientology Network produces all of its content in-house, with credit going to Scientology Media Productions.
“From scripting to shooting, editing, scoring and mixing, all productions are created by Church staff and parishioners at the Church’s multimedia digital production complex,” the Sunset Boulevard-located production company’s part reads. “Even digital media content for print magazine and social media are created at the one-of-a-kind global media center.”
The digital network is open to partner with independent filmmakers, it said.
Related stories from TheWrap: