Earlier this year History Channel broadcast The Bible and this TV series became the network's highest rated program in its history. According to The Hollywood Reporter, an audience of 11.7 million viewed the final episode which aired on Easter Sunday.
The Bible wasn't a one-hit wonder. Other shows catering to religious audiences have pulled large audiences this year. The American Bible Challenge is Game Show Network's top TV program. Comedian Jeff Foxworthy hosts the Bible trivia program.
A&E's most watched program is Duck Dynasty which features dedicated Christian Phil Robertson. According to Hollywood Reporter, 9.6 million people watched the recent season finale.
Why hasn't Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), the world's largest religious TV network, produced a TV series to reach this size of an audience? They can surely afford it considering how much they have spent on a luxury jet and TV stations.
This week TBN turned 40 years old. The network is very controversial due to its promotion of the prosperity gospel and inclusion of televangelists such as Benny Hinn that many Christians consider to be heretics.
Jim Bakker, Paul Crouch and Jan Crouch launched the network in 1973. When a conflict developed between Bakker and the Crouches, Bakker left to start the PTL Network.
Currently TBN has three board members: Paul Sr, Jan and Matt Crouch.
TBN's flagship program Praise the Lord is recorded before a live audience. Well known pastors, popular Christian authors, Christian musicians and other celebrities appear on the program as guests.
In recent years TBN's highest rated program has been Joel Osteen Ministries.
Several prominent scandals have shaken the network. Author Sylvia Fleener sued the network for basing its movie The Omega Code on her book The Omega Syndrome. The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money.
In 2011 Brittany Koper, granddaughter of Paul and Jan, was fired from her job as TBN's chief financial officer. Koper has emerged as an articulate critic of TBN's operations but a court case has temporarily silenced her.
In a series of articles I will be exploring the world of televangelism and what steps need to be taken to reform religious broadcasting. The religious broadcasters need our prayers, but more importantly they need us to hold them accountable for when they stray from the Gospel or engage in dishonest conduct.