Bishop T.D. Jakes is expanding his faith-based media empire into streaming television.
According to Variety, the noted preacher, inspirational speaker and author has signed a deal with Amazon Freevee to launch a free, ad-supported, streaming channel (FAST) and on-demand service that features 300 hours of his content.
Beginning Thursday, Dec. 1, sermons, interviews and unscripted programming will be available on-demand, while the streaming channel is scheduled to launch in early 2023. The deal exposes Jakes to an international audience, with rights in the U.S., U.K. and Germany, as well as T.D. Jakes on The Road episodes from Australia, London, and Africa.
“It’s unprecedented for both of us,” Jakes told Variety. “It’s the first time that [Amazon has] ever gone into that type of content before. And while we do scripted shows, and I’ve done things for Sony and other people, they initially are not asking for anything like that. They’re wanting purely faith-based content, preaching sermons, messages, inspiration, to be available to stream on a dedicated FAST channel and free to watch. That’s a new thing for them and for us.”
The deal isn’t exclusive, so programming from The Potter’s House ministry leader could be available on other platforms. Many of the church’s events, along with live streams of weekly services are currently available on YouTube.
While we’ve seen major media deals for faith leaders before, it usually revolves around a white male preacher and is on a smaller, niche station. For a Black religious leader like T.D. Jakes to cement a deal with a platform like Amazon is a very big step. The tech and retail giant is directly acknowledging the power and importance of the Black church.
“This is where the first time a company like Amazon has treated us without discriminating about faith and be open to providing this type of content for a certain base of their constituency who find that type of content enjoyable,” Jakes said. “To me that is a very good thing. It won’t be for everybody. But for those people who really enjoy that type of ministry, which our numbers verify that there are millions of people who do, we can now provide those services through Amazon.”
The Crushing author has produced several films and TV series, including Lifetime’s Seven Deadly Sins anthology. While the initial Amazon Freevee plans only feature unscripted content, Jakes is open to working on scripted programming with the streamer.
“We’re also talking about the possibility of, down the road, doing scripted television shows and other types of content through Amazon, beyond preaching messages,” he said. “So, this this is just ground level zero of a relationship that is emerging between our organization and them.”
In case you’ve never heard of Amazon Freevee, it’s a free channel available on Prime Video. It has a lot of TV shows from the ‘80s and ‘90s, but also includes new series Leverage: Redemption, Bosch: Legacy and the British comedy Timemasters.