Scientology TV Is Not Ready for Prime Time

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The Church of Scientology debuted its surprise TV network on Monday night, but it's certainly not ready for prime time.

"We are not here to preach to you, convince you or convert you," church leader David Miscavige said in on-screen remarks as the streaming network went live at 8 p.m. EDT. "No, we simply want to show you, because after all, the first principle of Scientology is that it's only true if it is true to you. So, take a look and then decide for yourself."

The first hour—really, the first 45 minutes I was able to watch before the app crashed—was essentially an infomercial. There was a tour of the group's Los Angeles headquarters, a look inside its churches and interviews with its members.

"I was four years old and I remember thinking 'why am I here,' one young male Scientologist said.

"When you close your eyes, you are literally on this journey... I went back, far back," another said.

Apparently, Scientology teaches its members how to breathe properly and makes the "able more able." Its practices include sweating out toxins in a sauna and using the famous e-meter device, which sends electric current through a person's body to supposedly help examine a person's mental state.

The only commercials that ran in the opening 45 minutes were promotions for the church and its original programming, which includes "Meet A Scientologist," where, as you might guess, a Scientologist is profiled; "Voices for Humanity," following a brother and sister who are working to end violence in Colombia; and "Destination: Scientology," which shows the construction of a church in Inglewood, Calif.

Perhaps the oddest moment of the episode of "Inside Scientology" came when police officers, saying they represent the Los Angeles Police Department, showed support for the Church of Scientology.

While Scientology boasts about its media production capabilities, the early viewing experience for Scientology TV was severly lacking, at least in my house. The browser-based stream crashed within the first few minutes of Miscavige's remarks. The Apple TV app wasn't much better. The sound kept cutting out and didn't match what was playing on the screen, the video skipped and restarted, and about 45 minutes in, the app failed for me altogether.

Scientology TV is available on Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire and Google Chromecast, as well as on DirecTV. While a DirecTV spokesman confirmed that the channel is airing on the satelitte operator, he declined to provide details on the agreement, including anything about advertising on the channel.

Checking back in this morning, Scientology TV replayed Miscavige's opening remarks and the same episode of "Inside Scientology." There was also the first episode of the three-part documentary series "L. Ron Hubbard: In His Own Voice."

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