AtheistTV gets a thumbs up

I was home for a late lunch, so I flipped on the Roku and installed the AtheistTV channel. It was easy, but then you Roku owners know that part already.

The channel is well organized into various categories, but right now content is a little thin — the comedy category, for instance, contains one video, and the movie category…well, there are a few entries there, but it’s a stretch to call them ‘movies’. I guess atheists are a bit light on providing entertainment.

But I consider the sparse content on the day of the launch to be a good thing. My dread was that they’d take a shortcut to filling up the channel by importing youtube videos wholesale, and then it would be an exercise in wading through garbage to find the gems. That’s not the case at all — they’ve exercised restraint and quality control.

So what you’ll find there is a lot of material relevant to American Atheists: recordings of talks at the last few national conferences and the Reason Rally, and AA’s official talk show, the Atheist Viewpoint. There’s a lot of stuff transferred from the RDF. The Atheist Community of Austin is featured with a collection of videos from the Atheist Experience. When I say it’s thin, I’m talking relatively, compared to a movie channel — you could still veg out for many weeks nonstop trying to watch everything on it. It’s still important that they are being selective about putting up videos with thoughtful commentary about atheism.

It also looks ready for expansion, and I’m sure even more will be added. It’s a good strategy for introducing the content of the conferences to a wider audience, and that’s a natural procedure for generating new material.

Some suggestions I’d make: it really is American Atheist-centered, understandably, but it would be nice to see partnering with CFI or American Humanists or British Humanists, for instance, to fold in some of their content. It would also be cool to adopt more science content — HHMI, for example, has lots of free science videos that aren’t at all explicitly atheistic but would fit in well with a theme of scientific naturalism (whether they’d be willing to have them shown on an atheist channel is an open question). Not just science, but also history and philosophy categories would be a nice addition.

Check it out. I think it’s going to be useful. If you have a Roku, it’s definitely worth getting the channel (it’s free, so I’m not saying much there), but it’s also yet another reason to get a Roku if you don’t have one.


  1. doublereed says

    Quality control?! That doesn’t sound like the atheist community I know and love.

  2. says

    Also the nihilism. It’s hard to do cheerful comedy when all you can think about is the futility of existence and the ultimate heat death of the universe.

  3. says

    Or sex shows. The mathematics of enhancing inclusive fitness might be a little drier than most non-atheists would expect.

  4. morgan ?! epitheting a metaphor says

    I’m sure the entertainment quotient will improve soon. Just google “atheists have better sex.” We do! We just need to film it and label it “Atheist Sex!”


  5. Lucas Mendes Tavares says

    Anyway I can this thing in Brazil? TV here isn’t anything really great, so a channel like this might give me a reason to even use the one I have…

  6. redwood says

    Better yet, have a “creationists greatest hits” category from “bananaman” and the like. For music, a collection of Tim Minchin would be great.

  7. hcdfanatic83 says

    Bad news:

    “Neues, exklusives Material wird von unseren zahlreichen Partnern kommen, zu denen Produktionsfirmen, The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, the Atheist Community of Austin sowie YouTubers wie Jaclyn Glenn und Keith Lowell Jensen gehören”

    “New, exclusive material will come from our numerous partners, which include production companies, The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, the Atheist Community of Austin, and YouTubers like Jaclyn Glenn and Keith Lowell Jensen”

  8. JohnnieCanuck says

    That Howard Hughes Medical Institute link proved quite interesting. I take it, PZ, that you are familiar with the software that tracks cell by cell embryo development by Keller et al. using his SiMView light sheet microscope?

    The zebrafish embryogenesis movie is compelling.

  9. jornin says

    Just installed the Roku channel, and I’m switching around between a few shows. I must say my first impression is not good. Maybe I’m picky because I work in TV, but FFS, who produced some of this? The Official Atheist TV Launch video with Dave Silverman is every bad thing about public access TV in one video. I have worked at public access TV, and it doesn’t need to be this bad. I understand the budget is small, but if you are going to be TV, you need to have a few basics. The launch video is first project at film school bad, and it is almost everything, except maybe the audio, which is strange because that is usually the main thing screwed up on low budget productions. The lighting is horrible, the set dressing is horrible, the lower third is not centered, text spills outside of the lower third graphic and is cut off on the right side of my screen. The lower third graphics also need to be updated, they would have looked out of date 10 years ago. And what is he reading off of? There are plenty of instructions online for hacking together a cheap teleprompter, and you can tell he is clearly reading something off to one side of the camera. A teleprompter is getting to be a necessity for productions anymore, it’s really distracting when your on camera talent isn’t using one. With a second viewing I am changing my mind about the audio, the editor neglected to fix a few popped P’s, and there is too much hissing on the S’s. And, on at least one of the clips of Madalyn O’Hair, the audio is out of synch with the video by a frame (to be fair that may be the original footage.)

    I have looked into starting a Roku station myself and looked at the developer package so I am a little familiar with that also. For both the Atheist Experience and The Atheist Viewpoint, the shows are organized backwards in the menu. Clicking down from the show title should give you the current episode, having to click to the right 15 times to current episode makes this less convenient then YouTube.

    I know Roku is in some ways only a small step up from YouTube, but if it’s going to be called Atheist TV, they need to pay attention to the 50% of the title that is TV. I am fine with the convention footage, it could be better, but in those situations you have to take what you can get. I am fine with rebranded YouTube material. But so much of the Atheist TV channel just looks sloppy and not ready for prime time.

  10. Anthony K says

    I hope they don’t dilute the atheism with science shows or anything. After all, atheism is just the non-belief in gods. You wanna add science to atheism, you gotta use a +.