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Seen the Good? If you haven’t watched BYUtv lately, you might be surprised. Get a preview of shows that are helping millions of viewers see the good in the world.

By Lisa Ann Thomson (BA ’95, MA ’98)

It’s not that the folks at BYUtv are the bragging types. But there is something telling about the 11 Emmy Awards they won last fall. They are more Emmys than the network had won in its previous 12 years on the air combined. Previously it had won zero. Something is going right at BYUtv. Maybe it’s the history-teaching biker. Perhaps it’s sketch comedy. It could be rockumentaries. But Wwhatever people are coming to BYUtv for, they are coming in the millions. If you believe Nielson Ratings, web stats, viewer e-mails, Emmy Awards, and fan-produced Christmas videos, something is going right at BYUtv.those

Comment [JM1]: couple reasons to cut this: 1) the designer thought we maybe had too much text for the opening spread; 2) we wonder if we’re making too much of the Emmys... which were, after all, regional emmys (in a questionably small region)... certainly worth mentioning in the story, but maybe the lead makes it sound like too big of a deal? also, we think these were not the first Emmys... we had a story a year ago about a 2011 Emmy for a Spanish language show called Nexos

Emmys were earned fair and square. Long-time viewers will have seen the evolution. You might call it a coming of age. Network executives BYUtv managers call it a divinely mandatedn inspired change of course. While BYUtv was initially established to

Comment [JM2]: not sure we can really call this a network; and network executives sounds rather high fallutin... :)

connect alumnis and friends to campus, the recent mandate is to focus less inward on BYU and the Church and more outward. In other words, BYUtv has been charged to create programming that is “virtuous, lovely, and of good report—and relevant to good people of all faiths,” says Scott H. Swofford (BA ’79), director of content for BYU Broadcasting. The new direction is captured in the channel’s tag line: See the Good in the World. But you may also be surprised to know there was another mandate as well: “It has to be watchable,” says

Comment [JM3]: with the article title now riffing off the tag line, we thought we'd better include the tagline pretty high up in the story.

Derek A. Marquis (BA ’88, MBA ’03), BYU Broadcasting’s managing director. BYUtv’s research shows that while people say they want to be uplifted and edified when they watch TV, what they actually just really want is to be entertained.

“So we asked ourselves, ‘Is it a bad thing to want, as our primary goal, to entertain? And then if we pay that price, are we allowed to edify and enlighten and educate?’ And we decided that we were,” Swofford says.

Comment [JM4]: just to cut words

That means scripture roundtables and campus conferences have been shelved in favor of documentariesy and dramas, and the loop schedule contains fewer repeats of devotionals repeats and more original shows. Of course yYou’ll still find incredible faith-based programs, such as the acclaimed Fires of Faith miniseries about the creation of the King James Bible. And you’ll still find can watch more BYU sports on BYUtv than anywhere else. But in BYUtv’s primetime line up, comprised of all original programs, you’ll also find regional-Emmy winners American Ride and The Story Trek and the network’s channel’s most- viewed series, Studio C. This In April the network premiereds its first scripted drama, Granite Flats. These shows have little to do with BYU or the Church. They just make good television the whole family can watch. “If we’re humble and guided and successful, then we’ll become a significant force in a really dark media landscape,” says Swofford. “Humans will not give up entertainment,” says Swofford.. “But what if we could entertain them and then point them toward edification?” That’s the goal. So sit back, relax, and enjoy these a preview of a few top BYUtv seriesshows. That’s what they’d want you to do. And if you come away feeling good about the world, then better still.

Granite Flats

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Looking to the Stars

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It’ was late and the sky wais dark, framed by the window of the classroom. James P. Shores (BA ’11) wais lying on

Comment [JM5]: The next few paragraphs were all in past tense...

the floor, under a table, looking up at the table, looking out at the stars. It shouldn’t have been a particularly inspirational moment. He wa’s tired. He’ds been there at the school for hours. He had flopped down to take a break. He’s been collating. Shores’ wife, was a fourth- grade teacher, and she had recruited him that night to help. They were putting together collate worksheets for her class. Shores was a BYU film student at BYU at the time and needed to do a short film project for a class cosponsored by BYU Broadcasting. Lying under the table, tired of collating, some thoughts came. A young child, maybe seven 7 years old. Lost his father. How did he lose his father? Outer space. NASA. A test pilot. Hiding under the table. His thinking place. His hiding place. Trying to understand where he

Comment [JM6]: I thought this might be worth sliding in--to help get BYUtv into the story sooner

went. What happened. Will he come back? His mother struggles. They don’t talk. The boy draws pictures under the table. Stars. Comets. Dad. “I was just laying there relaxing for a minute. That’s when a lot of it kind of hit me, some of the names and the ideas,” Shores recalls. Those flashes of late- night inspiration became his 30- minute film project entitled, Heaven uUnder a Table. And that short student film provided the inspiration for just what BYUtv was looking for: its first scripted drama. “We studied industry trends, and the reality is very few networks are built on reality television. Almost all new media outlets make a mark for themselves with scripted drama,” points out Scott Swofford., director of content at BYU Broadcasting, and executive producer for Granite Flats. BYUtv has developed a strong lineup of original documentary and reality shows and has had a strong showing with original feature films and miniseries. But Swofford knew the next step was drama. So Shores and Swofford worked together to expand the concept of Shores’ short film into a drama series. With adjustments to the setting and back story and after fleshing out of the boy’s world, Shores finally had a script for the pilot episode of a series called Granite Flats. With 30 years of industry experience, Swofford knows a few people. On a 2012 trip to New York last year, Swofford made a visit to a well-known top film-industry producer he’s worked with over the years. He took and shared the script for the pilot and let him read it. The producer was impressed and asked who had written it. “You won’t believe me if I told tell you,” Swofford told himsaid. When he told him itrevealed that the writer was a student, the producer was amazed, . Sso amazed he lent some of his team members to the project. With this help, Swofford was able to engage top writers, actors, and other industry professionals from New York and Los Angeles. “From scripting to cast to editing, the show has benefitted from mentoring and involvement at the highest levels of Hollywood,” says Swofford. The series, set in the early 1960s in the small fictional town of Granite Flats, Colo.rado, is filmed in several Utah locations in Utah. One of those spots is the Olmstead, an old power plant at the mouth of Provo Canyon. It has a large office building and a few houses, now uninhabited unless you count raccoons. It’s the same place Shores filmed his short. Another is an abandoned portion of main street in Magna, which BYU Broadcasting transformed

Comment [JM7]: tough call on whether to reintroduce Swofford and Marquis every time... I think we'll try without and see how it reads... may change our minds... also, we haven't yet introduced Granite Flats, so moving his executive producer title down a bit. Comment [JM8]: somewhat repetitive to the previous quote and the last sentence of the paragraph before the quote

into the main street of Granite Flats. The show has also built sets in the Salt Lake soundstage once used by the TV show Touched by an Angel. In the opening scene of the series, an old station wagon pulls a U-Haul trailer on a dark mountain road. Mom is at the wheel and her son, Arthur, about 12 years old, is in the back seat looking out at the moon. They

Comment [JM9]: it seemed perhaps a bit odd to only mention one of the locations and to not follow up with anything that justifies the mention of that one versus the others, so I added a brief mentions of a couple other key locations. Feel free to revise.

finally arrive. It’s late. As Arthur drags a suitcase toward his new home he sees a large, bright object comet flash

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across the sky. He thinks it is a comet, and as he settles into his room and he looks out at the stars and talks about the

Comment [JM10]: since it really wasn't a comet, I thought we probably shouldn't call it one

comet as if he were talking to tells his dad about it. His dad, a test pilot, who was killed just two months earlier. Arthur talks to him as he looks out at the stars. “It’s the idea of trying to understand who your father is,” says Shores as he describes the relationships of

Comment [JM11]: if I didn't know the story, I might assume at first that his dad is there in his room. Then when I read the next sentence, I have to reshape my perception. This is an attempt to make that a little smoother for the reader... not sure it worked. other ideas are welcome.

the characters throughout the show. Soon Arthur makes friends—a smart girl and an eager boy—and makes an enemy of the school bully. His mother makes friends, too, in with a nice fellow nurse at her new job at a the military hospital and with some of their patients. But metal falling from the sky, a nearby explosion at the height of Cold War tensions, and lurking G-Men indicate there is more to this little town than meets the eye. “It’s kind of a cross between Super 8, The Wonder Years, and Twin Peaks,” says Swofford, who serves as

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executive producer of the series. The series premiereds in early April, and Swofford hopes Granite Flats’ entertainment value will draw viewers in and the compelling narrative and themes will keep them there. “Hopefully, when people get into it and get invested in these characters and the way that they act, they’ll feel something different,” says Swofford. “And that will lead them to personal exploration, which is where we’re trying to send them.”

video: Scan this code or go to to see the first episode of Granite Flats.

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American Ride

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History on a Harley

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If you don’t think Stan M. Ellsworth (BA ’85) attracts attention wherever he rides, just watch the people in the background the next time you watch American Ride. You’ll notice heads turning as he drives down a street and people snapping pictures as he stands in historical places shooting his show. They cut out the parts where groupies swarm him, but it’s happened. From junior high school kids to grandmothers, the excited squeals sounds about the same. Ellsworth is hard to miss. He’s a big burly guy with long blond hair, a beard and a mustache, leather chaps, and a do- rag. Let’s just say this BYUtv star couldn’t attend classes on campus looking like that. Then there’s his bike:. A Harley- Davidson Softail Deluxe with a 96- cubic- inch engine, and “some pretty sweet pipes,” says Ellsworth. Also not subtle. But that’s kind of the point. Not so much to attract attention to Stan and his bike, but to attract attention to what he’s doing. He’s Stan Ellsworth is telling the story of America on through his hit television show, American Ride, and it’s a story he thinks America needs to hear with a decidedly patriotic twist. “America is a special place,” Ellsworth says. “It’s a place of great opportunity, freedom, liberty—, our birthright, our heritage. We have been given special blessings and special privileges, and we need to give back from what we’ve gotten.”

Comment [JM12]: it seems to me he's not just teaching history, he's preaching patriotism; that's his twist--in addition to the leather and stuff... if I understand right, he doesn't just think Americans need to learn history, he thinks they need to develop patriotism while they learn it... no? The next quote says as much; seems it might help introduce that concept here.

Ellsworth acknowledges that people may expect to hear that message from a bespectacled fellow in a sweater vest sitting in an armchair rather than from a leather-clad biker rumbling through Gettysburg. But Ellsworth doesn’t wear a sweater vest. He wears leather. Before American Ride, Ellsworth played in the NFL, coached college football, and taught high school history in high school. He has always ridden motorcycles and talked with a southern drawl. And his passion for history could not come more honestly: he has George Washington, Robert E. Lee, and Hyrum Smith are all there in his family tree. “I have studied this stuff all my life,” Ellsworth says. “Wrapping it in steel and chrome and leather is kind of the gimmick, and the road is the metaphor of the journey. But I am very sincere about my feelings for the United States. I hope people feel that when I speak. I respect the subject matter and the audience way too much to pull any punches.”

Comment [JM13]: didn't teach history when he was in high school

While When Ellsworth was teaching high school in Salt Lake City, a friend asked him to audition for the part of football coach in a film he was making. “At the time I didn’t feel strongly about anything except feeding my kids,” says the father of six. So when the part offered him the chance to make a little extra money, he took it. And they liked him. That part lead to another and another until he found himself working full time in the entertainment industry. But given the feast- or- famine nature of the business, Ellsworth got proactive. “I found out if you want to work in this industry, you need to make work for yourself,” Ellsworth he says. So he assessed what he had to offer: “I have a unique look, I love to ride motorcycles, and I love history. Hmmm. Let’s put them together.” Perhaps not an obvious marriage on paper. But it’s working. And probably for just that reason. “When I walked into Scott Swofford’s office, he had just been told by the Brethren that BYUtv needs to break down barriers, shatter stereotypes, and open up minds and hearts, and he told me, ‘Who better to do that than you?’” Ellsworth recalls. He also recalls that Swofford, the content director for BYUtv, had been ready to say no to Ellsworth’s idea for American Ride before that directive came. If an regional Emmy for bBest hHost and audience response says anything, then it’s good BYUtv said yes. And the crew has abundant evidence that the audience is responding enthusiastically. The show’s tour bus was recently pulled over in Cody, Wyoming. When the driver suggested to the officer that he didn’t think he wasn’t speeding, the officer said, “No, you weren’t speeding. I just wanted to meet Stan. Is he with you guys?” Stan was on the bus and happy to oblige. In Gettysburg, Penn.sylvania, the crew ran into a busload of junior high students, and for the youth it was nothing short of a star sighting. “They told us they had just been talking about the show on the bus, and they were saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if American Ride was filming there today?’” Ellsworth recalls. So imagine their excitement when they saw Ellsworth. In Washington, D.C., they ran into a tour group of older women, probably in their 60s or 70s, who clearly knew the show. “They were screaming and laughing like groupies,” recalls production manager Brooke Redmon. The attention is flattering and welcome, because, for Ellsworth, it still comes back to the message. It’s by learning and remembering history, by remembering those who made sacrifices to shape our nation, and by participating in our self- government that we show our gratitude, Ellsworth he says. “When we participate, we renew a covenant and a promise with the generations before and the generations yet to come. And that’s the way we show them we are grateful,” he says.

Comment [JM14]: I kept thinking they got an emmy for best host and an emmy for audience response...

video: Scan this code or go to to see an interview with Stan Ellsworth on Fox and

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Studio C

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C is for Comedy

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There is a bustle of activity in the home video. The kids are still in their p.j’.s and have bed- head hair. Squeals of delight and gasps of anticipation punctuate the ripping and crinkle of wrapping paper. They are surrounded by aA video game, some rollerblades, Legos. The usual fare for a Christmas morning. Then the mother lode. “How did you get these?!” asks one of the girls in disbelief. “I’m going crazy!!!!!” screams the nine year oldher older sister, hands on her head in utter disbelief. “I love

Comment [JM15]: one editor thought this was at first describing a sketch from the show; I thought moving up "home video" might help. Comment [JM16]: Peter questioned one of the quotes which he didn't remember from the video, so I watched it again and adjusted a few things, changing the order of quotes, mostly. also trimmed a bit to get to the show faster. This part here seems to imply that in the video you see them open presents of legos, rollerblades, etc. So I changed that slightly. feel free to tweak more as needed


“How did you get this?!” asks her dumbstruck 12-year-old brother. “I’m bringing this to school first!!” shouts his sister again as she grabs it and holds it out of the reach of her screaming siblings. “I love you!” she adds, pulling it back close. Tickets to Disneyland? An iPad? A pony? Better. Way better. An autographed picture of the cast of Studio C, with Studio C t-shirts.

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True story.

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“My favorite part was the nine 9-year- old screaming, ‘I’m going crazy!’” says cast member Mallory R. Everton (’13), as she doesdoing a melodramatic (you’d expect nothing less) impersonation of the child. The parents captured the scene was captured on home video and sent it to the cast as a thank you. These children’s mother, Colby Cole Warnock (BA ’98), had contacted Studio C for the picture when after their discussions about an upcoming family vacation took an unexpected turn. The parents offered to use Christmas

money to take the family to Hawaii this spring. The kids countered with an offer to go to Provo to see a taping of Studio C instead. “Instead of changing our plans, I wondered if maybe we could just get your autographs?” wrote Warnock in her request to Studio C., “Seriously, they would go nuts.” That they did. As the most viewed of BYUtv’s original shows, perhaps it’s not surprising to find fans like this. Studio C has a unique spot in BYUtv’s primetime line up. Amid dramatic miniseries, documentaries, and rockumentaries, Studio C is decidedly lighter. It is a sketch comedy show born out of the Divine Comedy tTroupe on campus. Think Saturday Night Live, but a version you’d watch in mixed company that includedwith your kids and your mom. Each episode consists of three to five sketches filmed in front of a live studio audience, peppered with some pre-filmed recorded bits. With a new season starting in April, fans can expect to see more of Mustache Man and Shoulder Angel as well asand to meet several new characters. For BYUtv executives, the show fits right in. “Humor is a vital part of the human experience, and laughing is fun,” says Jared N. Shores (BS ’10), Studio C producer and creative- development supervisor for BYUtv. Co-creator and cast member Matthew R. Meese (BS ’09) approached BYUtv with the idea of creating the comedy series when he was a student performing in Divine Comedy. He and Shores, worked for a year refining the concept, logistics, and budget until they had a show ready to air. And now iIf the tagline for BYUtv is “See the Good in the World,” then the tagline for Studio C might be “See the Humor in the World.” Eight episodes with 1.4 million views among them suggest the world likes a little humor. “I think that’s what comedy is: seeing the good in everything,” adds cast member Whitney M. Call (BA ’11). “Comedy is a celebration of what you experience in life. Why wouldn’t people keep coming back to that?”

video: Scan this code or go to to see the Warnock family opening their Studio C

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Christmas gift.

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Audio- Files

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Under Tones

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Alalen Sparhawk of the indie-rock band Low told the BYUtv crew to focus on his band mate and wife, Mimi Parker. He was just going to check his guitar and amp. He wasn’t going to play. They could get Mimi at the piano. They were at the Sacred Heart Music Center in Duluth, Minn.esota—an old church with dramatic arches and columns and stained glass. Sparhawk and Parker had suggested it as a lovely place to film. Parker starts to play, vamping the same simple descending chord progression on the grand. Then she sings. It floats high and clear. Sparhawk is walking around with his guitar, not looking. Pacing, fingering chords. Just waiting in the background. “Once I was lost,” she Parker sings in a folksy, Carly Simon voice. Her voice and the piano and their reverberation fill the chapel. The acoustics are great. The crew is filming, but no one is miked. They’re just catching the natural sound in the space. Sparhawk is looking away. But suddenly he sings. His tenor voice, equally folksy, echoes harmonically above, just for three notes. Then he waits. Then Hhe echoes again and then again and then again. She continues to sing and play and he continues to punctuate her song with just enough harmony and a little electric guitar. They almost never look at each other. They just listen and sing. “Musically, it was one of the best moments we’ve had,” says Audio- Files creator and producer Matt Eastin. “It wasn’t one we ‘produced,’ it just happened.” It’s these moments Eastin lives for, and most certainly creates Audio- Files for. “I wanted to make the music show I wished was already on MTV or VH1. There are no music shows anymore,” says Eastin. He refers to highly produced singing competitions or highly staged inside-the-life shows. Eastin just wanted a show that was beautifully filmed and simply real. Real music. Real musicians. Real lives. Like the morning they met with Mates of State, also a husband- and- wife team. The crew arrived at their home about 8:00 a.m. for a glimpse into the real life of rockers. When they arrived, Mmom was at the table going over their daughter’s homework. Dad was making lunches. When it was time to go, they loaded up in the family minivan and took the girls to school. “People try to tell you what punk rock is, but this is punk rock,” Jason Hammel tells Eastin and his crew from the driver’s seat. That episode airs in April.

Comment [JM17]: we come out in late april, so there is an awkward tense decision here. And maybe we don't need to mention when it airs. they filmed it... maybe that's enough.

If Eastin wantedTo create thea show he wishesd was already on TV, he Eastin chooses bands he’d want to see on that show. In the first episodesseason, they’ve caught bands like Neon Trees and Imagine Dragons just as they hit the radar. Some bands are punk and some are bluegrass. Most are independent, and all are bands you will want to know—, if you don’t know them now. As bands have been featured on the program, more bands want to be featured, points out Eastin. “Some of the bands have offered referrals to other bands, which is a great compliment,” Eastin says. He and his team have also caught the attention of industry insiders, like a pair of brothers in Las Vegas who manage bands, including Imagine Dragons and The Killers. They have been instrumental in helping Eastin engage musicians. If you ask what a show like Audio- Files is doing on a network like BYUtv, Eastin sees an obvious fit. “Music is very generically called the universal language,” he says. “The music [these bands are] creating is beautiful.” And that’s good enough.

video: Scan this code or go to to see Low perform “Point of Disgust.”

The Story Trek A Story to Tell

It’s the last shoot of the season, and the crew is lined up on tall chairs. They’re squirming just a little bit. They’re not usually in the hot seats. They’re usually behind the cameras. But today they are the ones telling stories. At this shoot, the six-person crew of The Story Trek is in a cozy lodge doing a debrief. Rrevisiting stories they loved and moments they cherished or hope to forget. Their first Emmy sitsting on an end table next to them. When creator and host Todd M. Hansen (BA ’93)—–ever the interviewer—asks his team for their scariest moment this season, director of photography Eric Gaylord is quick to respond: “Right now.”

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But as the conversation ensues, they soon relax and have a great time reminiscing over the two dozen episodes of The Story Trek they’ve taped during the past year. You quickly get the feeling theyit becomes apparent they don’t just love their jobs but they believe in their task: fFind people and tell their stories. “Everybody has a story to tell,” Hansen is famous for saying. He believes that in his heart and soul, which is why he created the show, and he sets out to proves it by trekking across the country to random places, knocking on random doors, inviting himself in, and asking for a story. (Yes, the family in Nevada whose toddler is named Jimmer was found randomly.) Of course not everyone opens their doors or lets them in, and some have chased them away with baseball bats and guns. But if you say yes to Hansen, you are featured on the show. Your story may be as simple as the girl who has always planned to be famous on TV—– although she seems pretty nervous now that she has her big chance —– or may be as profound as a life of abuse and the peace of forgiveness. Crew favorites from this debrief include a guy they call Mama Bird Man, a woman who’s step father was the president of Hell’s Angels, and a genius named Nard. “Every story is of worth,” says Hansen. “I get e-mails from all over the world saying, ‘That particular story touched my life. It helped me get through the particular thing I’m going through.’” And that’s why he does it. So as Hansen always says, “If you don’t think you have a story, please answer your door and let us prove you wrong.”

video: Scan this code or go to to see one of Hansen’s favorite stories, about a 90-year-old man still making a difference.

Sidebar Stay Tuned

Tune in any evening during primetime and you’ll be sure to catch one ofa BYUtv’s original shows. All are created to entertain, uplift, and edify. All are family friendly. Here are a few more to watch for.:

BYU Sports: From men’s basketball to women’s gymnastics, BYUtv offers BYU sports coverage you can’t get elsewhere. Fans can also check out True Blue for interviews with coaches and players. Turning Point: This documentary-style show features inspiring and dramatic stories of people whose life paths have hinged on a single decision and the good that has come from it. The Song That Changed My Life: Musicians from Howard Jones to Alex Boyé share their stories and the songs that influenced their musical journey. Chef Brad: Fusion Grain Cooking: If you’ve ever wondered what to do with quinoa, this is your show.

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Fires of Faith: This acclaimed miniseries details the creation of the King James Version of the Bible through dramatic re-creation as well asand expert commentary. Silent Night: A beautifuln original feature film based on the true story of the writing of the beloved Christmas carol, “Silent Night,” filmed on location in Europe. The Letter Writer: In this original feature film, the lost art of lettering writing helps a troubled teen find a better path.

video: BYUtv is available on 889 cable and satellite systems in the United States. You can also watch oOriginal BYUtv content can be watched at (just scan this QR code) and or can be accessed through a the BYUtv app and Roku. With its own content, BYUtv International is available in 19 countries and airs in Spanish, Portuguese, and English. It can also be viewed online at

Comment [JM18]: not sure we should bring BYUtv Int. into this story... pretty tangential.

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