By Bryce Kunz
Some media these days is negative, but the BYU Broadcasting Department is expanding its programming in an effort to send positive messages to more than 60 million people around the world.
Keith Willes, director of marketing for BYU Broadcasting, said their focus and theme has changed.
“In the past our theme has been ‘keeping you connected,’ but in the last 18 months it has shifted to ‘see the good in the world,’” Willes said.
This new theme influences how BYU Broadcasting is choosing the programs it airs. Recently, BYU Broadcasting added the now popular “Food Nanny” show, which is contributing to an increase in viewership and is receiving positive feedback, Willes said.
“The goal as an organization is to find the good programming and share it,” Willes said, adding that family-based programming has been a focus.
To help people be more aware of the programming currently available, BYU Broadcasting will be working in conjunction with ESPN and will broadcast more than 140 live sports programs this year. This will draw viewership to other shows and will also attract audiences in different cities, Willes said.
Scott Swofford, the director of content for BYU Broadcasting, said he believes this shift is needed to help non-LDS people understand the core values of the LDS Church.
“It was time to start using this amazing gift to speak to those not of our faith,” Swofford said. “It became obvious that if we were going to talk to them, which our leadership had asked us to do, we needed to change the way we program our stuff.”
The shift, which began in 2009, is easy to spot with the change in primetime shows. Swofford said BYU will begin about 10 new shows this fall. These will surprise some, Swofford said, because they aren’t what people typically expect from BYU Broadcasting.
“All of the things that our viewers and our alumni have come to appreciate about BYU Broadcasting will still be available on Sundays,” Swofford said. “But during the week hours we are going to make every attempt, starting with primetime, to put up programming that speaks the language of those we are trying to talk to.”
He said sometimes people may look at BYUtv and think what is being broadcast may not have relevance to them, but the shows will provide a different path for people to see what the LDS faith has to offer.
Swofford said the reaction is both positive and negative, but mostly positive. He said ratings have increased 217 percent since the new tagline was introduced. He expects that number to increase over the next few months with the contracts with ESPN and the West Coast Conference. However, some people who viewed the shows in the past have expressed disappointment that their favorite shows were moved from primetime to other times.
BYU Broadcasting will continue to broadcast what other departments on campus are doing, but how the information is presented will need to change so it will be more TV-friendly, Swofford said.
BYU Broadcasting will hold a Football Media Day on July 12 and will announce its fall line-up in the near future.