We open our article with a graphic from Scientology TV:
This graphic is taken from Scientology’s official website and informs us that Scientology TV launched with only 25 hours of original content (1500 minutes). This is hardly a number to brag about — particularly after Scientology leader David Miscavige spent about $100 million to purchase, equip, and launch Scientology Media Productions and Scientology TV.
David Miscavige purchased the old KCET studio in 2011, so we also must factor in the seven years of time he took to actually get his 25 hours of original Scientology TV content on air. Looked at from a business perspective, this is a terrible and inefficient use of time and money. Like the Ideal Orgs or the Super Power Building, Scientology TV is yet another money-grabbing and financially wasteful Miscavige vanity project which absolutely fails to address the real issues that are destroying the Church of Scientology from within and without.
The $100 million dollar number translates to $4 million dollars per hour for 25 hours of new content. This is an alarming cash burn figure for 25 hours of Scientology content that few people will ever watch or even notice. In terms of contrast, HBO’s Game of Thrones spent $15 million per hour for its final episodes, this according to a 2017 story in Variety penned by Maureen Ryan and Cynthia Littleton. The difference between Scientology TV and Game of Thrones is the return on investment. According to Forbes, 16.1 million people watched the first episode of Game of Thrones final season. Game of Thrones was crucial to HBO’s “$1.6 billion in revenue and $583 million in operating income during the first quarter of 2017” per the Forbes article.
While it is not realistic to expect something as mediocre as Scientology TV to compete with HBO’s smash hit Game of Thrones, it is realistic to expect David Miscavige to be a better financial steward of the donations made by Scientology’s parishioners. Miscavige’s profligate spend of $4 million per hour on content is excessive when we consider that Scientology TV is fundamentally propaganda that seeks to deflect attention away from the real issues of Scientology’s rapacious greed; its wanton exploitation of Sea Org members; the Cult’s use of child labor; and Scientology’s psycho-terrorist practices of Disconnection and Fair Game.
In their piece, Ryan and Littleton sum up the costs of contemporary television production:
At a moment when the television industry is grappling with a massive increase in the number of shows being produced, the ripple effects of Peak TV are surfacing in virtually every line item in a typical TV series budget.
Fueled by the rise of streaming heavyweights that don’t play by the same financial rules as traditional TV players, costs are soaring for everything from location scouting to renting equipment to securing post-production facilities…The estimates on the cost of content that emerged from these interviews peg the typical range of the production budget for high-end cable and streaming dramas at $5 million-$7 million an hour, while single-camera half hours on broadcast and cable run from $1.5 million to more than $3 million.
David Miscavige is spending big money like a Hollywood mogul. However, his spending will not result in the multibillion dollar annual earnings that successful Hollywood moguls deliver. Scientology TV will likely result in very little for the Church of Scientology except to mislead its parishioners into thinking that Scientology is growing and has surmounted decades of withering revelations about the corrupt and abusive practices of this “pay as you go” business that masquerades as a church.
Miscavige’s Scientology TV programming deliberately withholds Scientology’s space opera cosmology that is populated by Xenu, volcanoes, and body thetans. Scientology TV will also definitely never show the actual dollar costs of Scientology in which Scientologists must pay $500-$1000 per hour for auditing. At these prices, it is quite easy to spend $500,000 — or more — on your way up Scientology’s Bridge to OTVIII:
This next Scientology graphic informs us that a Scientology Media Productions unit called “Central Ingest” receives 720 hours of raw footage everyday from Scientology shoot crews. This raw footage becomes Scientology TV:
720 hours per day x 365 days in a year = 262,800 hours of raw footage that Central Ingest has to edit into original content to fill the 8,760 broadcast hours per year on Scientology TV’s 24/7/365 schedule. At $4 million an hour to create new content, Miscavige will be increasingly forced to cycle through the same content over and over simply to conserve cash.
Look at the bottom line: With a $4 million dollar per hour burn rate to create new Scientology TV content, 250 hours of content would cost one billion dollars. Scientology TV has the very real potential to bankrupt Scientology. Predictively, therefore, Miscavige will be forced to scale back his Scientology TV operation within a few months and reduce production costs to $50,000 per hour or less. I say this because, in its present form, Scientology TV is financially unsustainable.
Miscavige made his big initial investment in the Scientology Media Productions studio. However, this does not necessarily his mean his costs-per-hour of production time will go down. Television is an expensive business and Miscavige has had to bring in outside talent as the Sea Org simply cannot do professional television production on its own. Without professional outside help, the 262,800 hours of raw footage each year will quickly become a nightmarish backlog that has to be reviewed, scripted into a narrative, edited, and viewed for approval and release. Miscavige’s micromanaging style will also become a major bottleneck if he cannot delegate sufficient authority to release hundreds or thousands of hours of original content each year.
Scientology TV is all cost and no profit. Conversely, Scientology auditing is almost pure profit given Sea Org labor costs and the fact that all of Scientology Orgs are paid for. There are very little overhead costs for Scientology to deliver auditing. And of course IAS donations are pure profit as nothing is offered in return except cheap trophies.
Scientology TV’s initial performance has thus far targeted the safe low-hanging fruit, i.e. successful and non-controversial Scientologists: The banjo-making Deering’s; a skateboarder; a couple that makes custom lighting fixtures and chandeliers; and other innocuous people. Oddly, no Scientology celebrities have been featured. Conspicuously absent are Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Laura Prepon, etc. Even the Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss has been absent; this perhaps due to her less than charming behavior at the 2017 Emmy awards:
Once Scientology has picked the low hanging fruit then what? Will it show the gritty reality of bankrupt Scientologists such as Richie Acunto whose $10 million dollar IAS Scientology trophy ignominiously wound up for sale on eBay?
Will Scientology TV do an episode on how everyday Scientologists write Knowledge Reports on each other in the snitching culture of Scientology? Will Scientology TV show how female Sea Org members are not provided with feminine hygiene products and must pay for tampons and such from their earnings of .50 cents per hour or less? When will Scientology TV tell the real truth about what Scientology actually is and does?
Scientology TV very predictably went on the attack against Psychiatry and Psychiatric drugs. Anyone could see this was coming; likewise we also knew that the phony PR stories and fake heroics of Scientology’s Volunteer Ministers would be a part of the broadcast equation. Very predictably too were the stories of how The Way to Happiness saved Colombia.
Yet when will Scientology TV showcase Scientology’s notorious Office of Special Affairs where all of Scientology’s psycho-terrorist Fair Game operations are planned and managed? When do we get to see actual Scientology salespeople pressure Scientologists into going another $40,000 into debt to raise their IAS Patron status? When do we get to see a Scientologist solo auditing their body thetans for an hour or more everyday behind a locked door in their home?
The answer is that we will never see the cruel and miserable realities of everyday Scientology.
All that we will we will ever see on Scientology TV is Scientology PR; its attacks on Psychiatry; fake news from its phony front groups; and Nation of Islam members who have become practicing Scientologists. Scientology TV is nothing more than Cult TV.
In the final analysis, Scientology TV is David Miscavige’s $4 million dollar per hour vanity project meant to burnish his legacy within the insular confines of Scientology. The Scientology dictator made sure everyone knew Scientology TV was his baby when he shamelessly featured himself as the centerfold in a four-page wide photo-spread in the recent edition of International Scientology News:
The photo was taken at the LRH Birthday Event at which Miscavige announced Scientology TV. Miscavige can be seen behind his podium onstage at the center of the photo. He is surrounded by his adoring and euphoric throngs who can’t believe that Scientology finally has a TV channel a scant 71 years after DuMont, ABC, NBC, and CBS began broadcasting in the period 1947-1948.
America’s first big religious broadcaster was Bishop Fulton J. Sheen who began airing his show in 1951; this was the same year L. Ron Hubbard fled New Jersey for Wichita, Kansas after his first Dianetics Foundation went bankrupt and he was facing criminal charges in New Jersey for teaching medicine without a license. That Scientology is 70 years late in adopting television broadcasting is nothing new. Scientology spent tens of millions of dollars to build and open a 276,000-square-foot book-publishing factory in 2009 when paper books were racing into digital form on Kindle, tablets, and pads. Scientology’s Bridge Publications is still selling books and DVD’s in 2018. The Dianetics Kit sells for $75.00 and yet it points to a serious problem:
Scientology TV cannot broadcast anything contained in the Dianetics Kit or in any other products sold by Bridge Publications. To do so would cut into the revenues of Bridge. The hope of Scientology TV, therefore, is to get people to buy Scientology goods and services. And yet at $75.00 per Dianetics kit, Bridge Publications would have to sell 53,333 kits to offset the $4 million dollar cost of one hour of new content production by Scientology TV. This will never happen. Thus, one can begin to see the intractable problems created by David Miscavige’s extravagant and wasteful spending on Scientology TV. The man is truly fiddling while Rome burns.
Despite these glaring problems, the fawning prose describing the event when Scientology TV was announced to the faithful was downright embarrassing and helps to explain why Scientology is a Cult:
The schedule for Scientology TV this weekend from Friday, April 6, 2018 at 6:00 PM through Sunday, April 8, 2018 shows the highly repetitive programming that will quickly become the major pitfall of Scientology TV — this unless David Miscavige commits to huge burn rates of cash in the millions of dollars per hour to churn out new content. Seen from this perspective, the Ideal Orgs were a much better grade of failure for David Miscavige as they at least left Scientology owning real estate. In the case of Scientology TV there is no tangible return on the investment. Of course, Scientology claims that its TV channel will “boom” Scientology. However, the Cult says this same thing about all of its scammy cash-grabs: GAT I, GAT II, the Basics, Ideal Orgs, the Super Power Building, etc.
Below: This weekend’s Scientology TV schedule is shown on a PDF. The schedule repeats episodes on Scientologists Binod Sharma; James Speiser; a mother who became a media consultant; and The Way to Happiness. Sunday night features an L. Ron Hubbard marathon in which the Founder can be heard droning on at length in his various lectures. Does it get any more exciting than this?
Note: Hover your mouse over the PDF below to invoke the controls that allow you to page down through this three page document:
Categories: The Scientology Money Project