Truli Aims to Deliver Family Content to the Entire World
Beliefnet interviews Michael Solomon about Truli, his brand new Christian video website.
By S. Russ [original interview posted at beliefnet.com]
Michael Solomon has a long and impressive background in getting programming to the masses. He has played an international role in the distribution of such well-known programs as People’s Court and Dallas. Now, he is turning his attention to Christianity and his new website, Truli. Truli is a place where Christians can go to watch sermons, listen to music, view movies, and more… all for the price of free! We caught up with Michael to discuss his background in the industry, his goals for Truli, and why he started this new venture. Enjoy the interview and don’t forget to check out Truli!
What is your background?
I’m a content person and I’ve been at this for over fifty-five years. I started out in 1956 loading films on trucks for United Artists when I was eighteen years old. I went to New York University at night, I’ve been on the board there for 25 years… so in 1960 they sent me to the international division and sent me to Panama to open up the Central American territories for American motion pictures. I did that for a year and they sent me to Colombia where I had all kinds of extraordinary adventures. Then they sent me to Peru where I was manager over Peru and Bolivia at twenty-four years old. During that time I received an offer from MCA, which in those days was the largest company distributing television programming. My position was to start the Latin American television division, so I moved to Mexico and also had a home in Brazil and I traveled throughout Latin America putting stations on the air. I worked at MCA for 14 years, became a Vice President when I was thirty and had worldwide responsibilities for them.
After twenty-two years under the corporate structure I decided to start my own company which was called Telepictures Corporation. I started that in 1978, and went public in 1980. I was CEO of that company and that company actually created syndication. We created it with a little series called People’s Court, which is still on the air and the godfather of court shows. Thirty-two years later, it’s still on the air! So the stock went from three dollars to thirty-two dollars, because of the success I bought a company called Lorimar, and Lorimar Telepictures Corporation became the largest production company of American television content in the world. We had Dallas, Falcon’s Crest, Knot’s Landing, those series were very, very big. We had thirteen years of each of those series on NBC. I owned television stations, was in the home video business, was in the magazine business, and was very successful there as well. Then, three years later I received an offer from Warner Brothers that I couldn’t turn down. I was a part of the package and became the president of Warner Brothers International. My mandate was to build up their international television division from scratch, I did that and in three years and it became the largest operation of its kind in the industry.
How did Truli get started?
Five years after that I left and wanted to go back to being an entrepreneur and I started a distribution company, and bought television stations. So today when people ask me what I do I say “the same thing I did fifty years ago,” and they say “what’s that?” I explain that I’m in the syndication business, but instead of syndicating American television product all over the world, I’m syndicating it to all of the new technology such as tablets, phones, Smart TV, and boxes such as Roku and Google TV. The content that I selected to do this is faith based content. So today Truli is focused on the Evangelical world because there are approximately one hundred million Evangelicals that live in the United States, and approximately six hundred to seven hundred million that live outside of the United States. I believe strongly in success by being focused, so Truli is totally focused on almost a billion people that have the same beliefs and the same desires as a group. That makes it much easier to select the content.
What is the content?
Churches sign up to deliver their sermons on our platform every single week, so we’ll have thousands of churches delivering thousands of sermons every single week for the public. We focus more today in the US but eventually we’ll go to Latin America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. We store those sermons and we categorize them into subject matter. In addition to that we have a youth music division and we’re signing up labels, delivering music from Christian bands all over the country who are looking for exposure. We have a movie division and all the movies that we have are vetted through Dove. Dove is a non-profit foundation that puts the seal of approval on G-rated and PG-rated movies so they can be shown to kids without hesitation from their parents. This is a family oriented platform and the content that we have is family-based, spiritual content. We have a focus on women, also we have an educational division, so we’ll have seminars and roundtable discussions. We also have a focus on youth between the ages of sixteen and thirty because it’s a fact that at eighteen 80 percent of them leave the church to find their own spiritual guidance. So we have created another division focusing on the youth. We have contracts with Veritas and many Universities getting content that is very appealing to that age group. We also have social networking, we’re very, very involved with Facebook and Twitter. In about five weeks we already have almost two million people that are watching us and over fifty thousand “likes.” That is how fast we are growing. We intend to have content in many different languages, we’re already in Spanish. We are very big in Indonesia and the Philippines, so we’re focusing a lot of our attention on those countries as well as Korea, which has the largest Evangelical community outside of the United States.
What are some of the unique challenges that you face with all of the technology that is available?
Well, keeping up with the technology. That’s very, very important to us. I happen to be very blessed in having a fantastic chief technology officer and he has a group of people working for him who are multi-talented. As we are speaking now technology is changing, we have to keep up with all of those technologies. The important thing is I have the content. I’m literally marrying the content with the technology. Every day there are thousands and thousands of hours of movies and music and all kinds of material that we will be looking to put on our platform and that is just a continuous process. We have a technology that provides a very friendly way for the consumer can find exactly what he wants, when he wants, and where he wants it. One of the challenges that we have is making sure that everything fits into that family genre.
How close is Truli coming to becoming what your ultimate vision is?
My ultimate vision really is to provide a conduit between the user and the Christian world. That’s just going to keep growing because I’m a distributor, and that’s how I’ve made my success all my life is in distribution. So essentially I am distributing what I feel is family and faith-based content to the billion of Evangelicals all around the world in many different languages. What could be better? It’s a win-win disputation for everybody. I feel extremely confident that we will have, within a twelve-month period, content in 4, 5, or 6 different languages.
Why do you think it is growing so quickly?
I think we’re providing something that is needed, and I think the response from the people that have already been exposed to Truli is so positive that everybody is telling their friends and family “hey log on to this new platform called truli.net, I think you’ll like it.” And that’s what’s happening.