Picture from New Show On BYU-TV Is More Than Relatively Engaging
Relative Race is a creative genealogical twist on the reality TV race genre. Four couples have to find relatives across America as they compete for a $25,000 prize. The program, from BYU-TV, is available online and through cable/satellite providers. Image ©BYU Broadcasting

New Show On BYU-TV Is More Than Relatively Engaging

When it comes to TV, it is literally time to think outside the box -- and many of you already have. I'm willing to bet many of the flat screen TVs in homes already have various little devices dangling off HDMI cables that are primarily used for renting movies and playing games. (The industry often calls them "over-the-top" or "OTP devices".) However, if you're willing to push a couple extra buttons and perhaps put your smartphone or tablet to good use, you can access TV providers you likely haven't even heard of. Like BYU-TV.

BYU TV has been around since 2001, but a few years back they moved into a new facility and began producing programming that ranks with what you're seeing from the big networks. Parents will also appreciate that the entire schedule is family friendly, but that doesn't mean it's wall-to-wall puppets, clowns and cartoons. In fact, it really isn't that at all. Instead the majority BYU produced shows are entertaining, enlightening and engaging. They have found a sweet spot that leaves me wondering why many others haven't thought of this?

This weekend I bumped into Relative Race on BYU-TV. Frankly I'm tired of reality TV, mainly because the interactions between constants are too often mean spirited and not role models I'd want to share with my kids. Yet before I had a chance to hit the off button, I was hooked with this concept of four couples racing across the country to find one of their relatives. The first to succeed in their quest will win $25,000. After the host, former ESPN anchor Dan Debenham, tells them they have to surrender their GPS enabled devices and use a <gasp!> road map, the driving discussions get really intense. Each car appears to have a variety of onboard cameras so we can follow every moment of turn-by-turn distress. If you've seen The Incredibles it's a lot like Bob Parr looking for his exit. Arriving at their first destination at the end of episode one, we witness family meetings that range from politely awkward to emotionally enveloping.

Based on this first episode (there are six total, and all are available to view on schedule or demand) I enjoyed the concept of having a productive goal at the end of the journey. With the ongoing interest in genealogy and family history, this series capitalizes on a popular pastime that produces the possibility of bringing families together -- even if they are distant second cousins. It's also a refreshing experience to watch reality TV without the profanity, sexual innuendo or bullying behavior that infests so many other shows in this genre.

How does one bring BYU-TV's programming into your family room? The easiest way is to use their new "channel" on a Roku box. Simply install BYU-TV through Roku's app interface, click the icon on the screen and you're good to go. Using a Google Chromecast or Apple TV requires a smartphone or tablet to act as the intermediary device. BYU-TV has a fine app for both Android and Apple devices that allows you to stream programming in a PVR manner (for example, binge watch all six episodes of Relative Race) or stream the live BYU-TV feed. (The BYU-TV website indicates that a native app for the new Apple TV is in the works.) In addition to these options, Amazon Fire devices are newly supported along with some gaming systems. There's also the option of using a computer (Apple or Windows). And for those who are doing it "old school", BYU-TV is available on many cable and satellite services.

Providers like BYU-TV are using the Internet to remove barriers between program producers and audiences. However, in this case the freedom isn't being exercised to offer edgy programs that would make even the TV networks blush. Instead BYU-TV is bringing family friendly TV shows to the masses -- the kind many other providers seem to have forgotten about.

More details about the movies mentioned in this post…

The Incredibles

The Incredibles