A Christian Netflix?
Morningstar Video, created by an Adventist entrepreneur, aims to provide a Christian alternative to Netflix.
, Columbia Union Visitor
Call it a Seventh-day Adventist answer to Netflix.
Edward Veve, a U.S. entrepreneur and IT specialist, created Morningstar Video after struggling to find Sabbath-appropriate content for his four sons on mainstream DVD and streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.
Morningstar Video, a subscription service that launched about a year ago, now has a library of hundreds of films and television shows that can be watched online. It also has developed a prototype cable box that allows faith-based content from Hope Channel, 3ABN, and other channels to be streamed directly to television sets.
The Adventist Church’s Columbia Union Visitor magazine sat down with Veve, a member of the Adventist church in Landsdale, Pennsylvania, to find out more.
Q: Describe your family’s viewing habits.
A: I used to go to a Christian bookstore at Christmastime and buy a stack of Christian DVDs such as “Veggie Tales” and "Facing the Giants" so my children would have quality biblical entertainment. Fighting a nearly constant battle with my four sons over entertainment in our home, I have alternated between cable and satellite — and have canceled both every couple of years.
Our family signed up for Netflix more than 15 years ago when they first started up and only rented DVDs. This was a great, economical source of biblical entertainment. When Netflix started streaming, we signed up right away but were disappointed by the easy availability of sinful, ungodly entertainment, so I canceled streaming.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Morningstar Video?
When my local Christian bookstore closed a little more than five years ago, it occurred to me that Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu were taking over the entertainment industry but there was no Christian equivalent. I was convinced I could build a Christian bookstore for the digital age and decided to create a Christian subscription DVD and streaming service so Adventists and Christians would have a place to go to find Sabbath appropriate content for our families.
Q: Did your IT background help you develop this business?
Absolutely. I have been in IT almost 19 years, and I knew it would be possible to set up a website from my garage. We have developed some very sophisticated software, as well as purchased a lot of the state-of-the-art technology used by some of the largest media companies in the world. We use a world-class infrastructure behind the scenes, including cloud-based servers and services, so we will never have trouble maintaining our own servers or expanding our capacity.
Q: How long did it take to get Morningstar Video up and running?
I raised more than $100,000 and recruited some very talented, highly motivated people who have put in more than a million dollars in labor during their off time for about four years because they believe in this project. About a year ago Morningstar Video opened for business as a subscription streaming website.
Q: What sorts of movies can members find there?
There are thousands of high-quality Christian movies out there that people have never heard of. We’ve focused on acquiring content — movies and TV shows — from the best independent producers. We are working our way up to the more expensive blockbuster Hollywood titles like “The Passion of the Christ” and “War Room.” We are also working on adding programming content from popular Adventist ministries such as Amazing Facts, 3ABN, and Hope Channel.
Q: What kind of feedback have you gotten so far?
The response has been incredible. People have been sharing our website. And they’ve been sharing our Facebook page throughout the past year — we have surpassed 800 “likes” so far, even though we have not yet been able to do a big advertising campaign due to our limited budget.
Q: How are you getting the word out?
We are getting ready to air 300 commercials on Parables TV and Uplift TV, which are Christian stations viewed in more than 50 million homes. We will probably reach the same number on the COACB channel. We did a print and electronic ad buy in Charisma magazine that reached hundreds of thousands of people. We have had interviews on Examiner.com, American Family Radio, and several blogs.
Q: What's next?
We have developed a prototype box called the Starlight, similar to Roku, that allows Christian families to stream faith-based content directly to their TV, so they don't have to watch Morningstar Video on their computer. This Android-powered box has dozens of channels, with a mix of faith based and family friendly channels from all genres — and it will include many more Christian channels such as Morningstar Video, Hope Channel, 3ABN, Amazing Facts, Parables, and CBN. We are also including sports, news, cooking channels, and kid-safe video games. The box can replace cable TV and provide dozens of video games with minimal violence. We are in the beginning stages of procuring funding for this new growth phase.
Morningstar Video is currently the only Adventist-owned subscription streaming website, and I am convinced that in the near future we will be a powerful 21st-century digital presence that will proudly proclaim the three angels’ message not only through our entertainment and information options, but also by offering hardware and software that makes it easier for parents to find positive, uplifting entertainment, while keeping their family safe from harmful content.