In every SAT-7 TV production, the most important ingredient is the audience! Spread across 25 countries and numbering over 25 million, they are the people SAT-7 seeks to deepen in the abundant life found in Jesus.
In 2020 the number of people contacting our viewer support teams rose by 30 per cent. On average more than 1,000 people got in touch every day! SAT-7 seeks not only to reply to them but to build a continuing relationship, as Marianne Awaraji, Audience Relations Manager for our Arabic channels, explains. Marianne says viewer support is “at the core of SAT-7”. She speaks as someone who is also a popular presenter of two live programmes – one for children and another, hosted with her husband, on marriage and relationships.
“I have always been passionate about follow-up with viewers,” she says. “To pray for them, reply to their questions, to share my own life experiences, and show how Jesus can change all sorrows into victories and help us through life’s struggles.
“We don’t just answer their questions and then abandon them. We want to accompany them on their journey. It might mean helping them solve their psychological or spiritual problems or helping connect them to a church or an online discipleship group. Our ultimate goal is hearing testimonies of viewers whose lives were changed by watching SAT-7.”
Like Marianne’s programmes, a number of flagship shows on all SAT-7 channels are broadcast live. Viewer interaction plays an important part in them. Children and their families form a bond with programmes by sending in artwork, messages, clips and prayers. Adults connect, asking how they can know God personally, sharing an opinion or testimony, or sending a cry for help in a crisis. Other viewers respond with their messages of encouragement, prayer or even offers of help.
It’s a sign of the “dynamic community” that Marianne talks about and that is increasing through SAT-7’s online platforms where viewers can interact with each other, join courses or access resources. Much of this connectivity happens “off-air” through messaging apps, emails, and SAT-7 social media pages curated for specific audiences. A growing team of specialist volunteers, including marriage counsellors, Bible teachers and psychologists, are now part of our viewer support team.
A challenge faced by SAT-7 PARS, SAT-7’s Persian channel, is the security of online platforms and messaging systems. Some are banned in Iran, where authorities monitor communication channels and seek to prevent the growth of the Church among its citizens. SAT-7 PARS constantly reviews the various apps available to protect viewers’ security. Despite possible risks, the spiritual thirst is so great that viewers sent almost 20,000 messages to the channel in 2020. In a land where most believers can only meet in secret, if at all, SAT-7’s viewer support is truly a lifeline.
“Interaction with the team alongside watching the live programmes goes some way to fill the gap in fellowship they can have,” says SAT-7 PARS Audience Relations Manager, Ashraf. “The team is motivated always to think about and address the needs and limitations viewers face.”The team keeps in touch weekly with individuals who need deeper support or discipleship. The bond that grows between viewers and channel staff is strong. So many, like Shoaib from Iran, share with us the deep gratitude they feel. Writing during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said:
I want to thank each and every one of you, dear friends who work at SAT-7 PARS. My best friend, other than my Lord’s Bible in the last six months, has been your channel... I love you warriors of the Lord Jesus Christ, and as a slave of Jesus Christ I am your servant too. May you remain in the protection of the Lord.”