The Bible

Joe Alblas/A+E Networks, LLC

Between the constant news about the Pope and the huge success of The Bible on television, I gotta wonder: Why all the Christian fever all of a sudden?
—Lady Beat, via Twitter

You speak as if some fleeting demand came springing, fully formed, out of nowhere. But this is no two-day fever. The Bible series, which has already scored more than 13 million viewers after only a single episode, is only the beginning. 

You should also know that Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman is working on a series about exorcism. And that season two of the wildly popular American Bible Challenge is getting ready to ramp up over on GSN next week. And still more programming is cooking too, much of it faith-influenced, if not faith-based.

It's only going to get bigger, and the reason is simple.

Demand! Huge, sweeping, worldwide Christian craving!

"There are 2 billion Christians around the world," points out Jonathan Bock of the faith-based entertainment marketing firm Grace Hill Media. "Here in our own country, for every McDonald's that you see, there are 17 churches."

Fair enough. But why now? What all this "fever," as you put it, now?

Well, Bock says, Christians don't want just any entertainment. Like everybody else, they want—ya know—good entertainment. And it just so happens that the $22 million, CGI-enhanced Bible series looks and feels more like a big-budget production than your standard sandalfest.

"This is not just a series of the greatest hits of the Bible," Bock tells me.

William Houston, The Bible, History Channel, Mmoses, Passover

Joe Alblas/A+E Networks

It also hasn't hurt that the Bible producers, Survivor creator Mark Burnett and actress wife Roma Downey, knew exactly how to build their audience before the Garden of Eden was even planted on a camera.

They consulted with folks like Bock. They previewed the series for influential megachurch leaders. They picked up endorsements from Christian kingmakers like Joel Osteen. So this huge hit didn't exactly come out of nowhere.

As for the Pope thing, well, sweetie, that's known as news. Not quite the same thing as entertainment...but, if the headlines are any indication, what's going on at the Vatican right now is just as juicy as any Old Testament story. 

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