15 May 2018
The launch of SAT-7’s Persian television channel on a second satellite has seen the overall number of viewers contacting the channel double within its first year, including a surge in responses from Afghans.
On 15 May 2017, SAT-7 PARS significantly expanded its audience reach by launching on the Yahsat satellite and, in doing so, became the only Christian broadcaster on a platform watched by 60 per cent of satellite users in the Persian world1.
SAT-7’s Persian-language channel can now be watched on the two leading satellite providers for Iran and Afghanistan, Yahsat and Hotbird on which SAT-7 PARS has been broadcasting since 2006.
Following the launch on Yahsat, the SAT-7 PARS Audience Relations team immediately noticed a sharp increase in contact from viewers, suggesting that new viewers were finding the channel and being positively impacted. Overall audience “engagements” (which refer to a conversation with a viewer, for example a telephone call) increased by 95 per cent in just a few months!
Monthly contacts (over a twelve-month period) rocketed from 1,117 before the launch to 2,216 since broadcasting started on the second satellite.
Panayiotis Keenan, Executive Director of the SAT-7 PARS channel, said: “It is exciting to see that in a very short period of time there has been a huge increase in viewers contacting us. It is likely that our audience has grown substantially in 2017, and new viewers are contacting us every month!”
POSITIVE RESPONSES FROM AFGHANISTAN
The SAT-7 PARS Audience Relations team also noticed a vast increase in callers from Afghanistan. This can be directly attributed to Yahsat, which seems to have far more viewers in Afghanistan than the Hotbird satellite.
“One of our goals as a channel is to be more accessible to Persian speakers outside of Iran, particularly in places such as Afghanistan,” Keenan explained. “Yahsat has helped us to do this and, as a consequence, we are seeing many new and encouraging testimonies coming from viewers in Afghanistan. We are now working on providing even more resources for our Afghan audience, such as more programmes in their own dialects.”
After May 2017, Afghanistan became one of the top countries viewers were contacting SAT-7 PARS from – second only to Iran. Previously, Afghanistan had not even been among the top ten countries.
Moreover, the SAT-7 PARS Audience Relations team have had many encouraging conversations with viewers in Afghanistan wanting to know more about the Christian faith.
Keenan gave an example of how some who have had no previous Christian understanding are thirsty to learn more. “One viewer called in and said people keep talking about this man, Jesus. Do you know where I can meet Him?”
A member of SAT-7’s Audience Relations team described conversations they had with Kourosh2, an Afghan student, three of whose friends had become believers in Jesus through watching SAT-7. “He didn’t know much about Christianity but he knew that it was about love and kindness,” the team member said. Like his friends, Kourosh prayed to receive Christ and has been sent study materials and music to help him grow and understand more as a new believer.
In a country where the church exists entirely underground and believers are often isolated with very limited access to Christian resources, having 24/7 access to encouraging Christian programmes on SAT-7 PARS and receiving support from our Audience Relations team is a lifeline.
1IPSOS Report: Yahlive penetration in the Farsi market, 2017; 2Name changed for security