Review: Gaither TV

by | Sep 5, 2023 | Content Provider Review, Reviews

I just completed a month-long subscription to Gaither TV. It was five weeks really, because they gave me a 7-day trial period initially.

CONTENT: 4 1/2 Stars
Gaither TV offers footage from almost every video title released under the Gaither Gospel Series banner. Yes, 1991’s original Homecoming video is included, so is 2023’s Shine: The Darker The Night The Brighter The Light featuring the Gaither Vocal Band.

Most Gaither videos were sold in stores on VHS and later on DVD, clocking in at anywhere from 90 to 120 minute each. The same titles were also edited for television where you’d get to see 30-45 minutes and were encouraged to purchase the video with a companion audio product. On Gaither TV, you get a mixture of these; some are the complete 90-120 minutes while some are the shorter television versions. Obviously, I’d prefer to have access to the full-length versions of everything, but there’s still a wealth of material available.

During the 1990s when I worked in Christian retail, Gaither videos were played on a constant loop to encourage our customers to purchase them. Still, I’m not so familiar that I knew or remembered every detail. On 1996’s Ryman Gospel Reunion, Gaither TV serves up a performance of a song by Ricky Skaggs & The Whites that WASN’T on the retail version. I remembered seeing Skaggs sitting in the audience but wasn’t aware he had also performed that night.

It’s fun to mentally try to put a name with every face as you see them singing in the choir. I can squash the myth that the Inspirations were never on a Gaither video, for example. They may not have been featured, but they definitely WERE in the choir at one point.

The videos from the 1990s in particular are a sweet spot. During those years, you could see now-famous singers (Isaacs, Martins, etc.) who were virtually unknown at the time sitting in the same room with legends like Sumner, Younce, the Goodmans, and the Speers. Some fans will also enjoy observing how fashion choices and hairstyles have changed over the years.

SIGN-UP/PRICE POINT: 5 Stars
Sign-up is quick and easy using a web browser: enter your email, create a password, decide whether you prefer to be billed $4.99 monthly or $49.99 annually, put a credit card on file, and you’re good to go. The credit card is required up front, but if you cancel during the 7-day trial period, it won’t be charged. I suggest signing up for the monthly rate initially. You can always switch to the annual plan if you decide it’s still worth having it perpetually available despite the usability/support quirks described in the next section.

USABILITY/SUPPORT: 2 Stars
After using a web browser to set up my Gaither TV account, I downloaded the Gaither TV app for my ROKU so I could watch videos on my television and hear better audio through my studio monitors than tiny laptop speakers could provide.

Rather than getting a code from the app and quickly verifying my account through a web browser (as is the case with most major streaming apps), the Gaither TV app forced me to painstakingly enter my email and password using the ROKU’s remote to navigate to each character. It’s a hassle, but at least you only have to do it once…or so I thought. Sadly, this app forgets you were logged in and makes you do it all again every few days. This happened no less than four times over the course of five weeks. I decided if I was going to have to enter my email address over and over, I’d change it to a shorter one. I’d set it up with gaither@musicscribe.com, so I went to their website to change it to g@sghistory.com. Changing and saving the email appeared to go fine, but neither the website nor the ROKU app would take the new email when I tried to use it to log in. I could see under the Account section that it had indeed been saved.

At that point, I decided to contact support. That’s when I discovered there isn’t any support; there’s no help link to be found on the website nor the app, no chat, no customer service link, no phone, no email, nothing…zero, zip, nada. I even went so far as to contact the company that built the app (Gideo). Four weeks after leaving a voicemail and sending an email through their web form, I haven’t received a response.

Both the ROKU app and the main website group videos by theme. It’s not at all difficult to browse through the available selections until you find something you want to watch. There’s a search function, too. It’s sluggish, but it works if you already know the title of the video you want to see.

OVERALL: 3 Stars
The price is great, and so is the content. You can watch almost all of Gaither’s catalog as much or as little as you like for less than $5/month. Sadly, a potentially great service is devalued by app/website flaws which are in turn compounded by zero support.

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David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray is a church music director in Ellenboro, NC. He is the author of Murray's Encyclopedia Of Southern Gospel Music and the owner of both SGHistory.com and MusicScribe.com.

9 Comments

  1. Brandon Padgett

    Thanks for sharing the review. I had totally forgot about Gaither TV. I would be interested to see a review of Singing News TV. I love the service, but would like to see your take on it. Thanks for all you do for southern gospel music. I have enjoyed reading your blog for years!

    Reply
    • David Bruce Murray

      Thank you, Brandon. I may do that at some point. I had a subscription for a while with them as well, but I don’t at the present.

      Reply
      • Kevin Pearson

        I had a Singing News account but didn’t renew it for two reasons. 1st, there just wasn’t enough new content added, even after a year of service. 2nd, the sound quality on many of the concert events was horrible. Often, the bass was too forward and vocals way back in the mix, and I listened through a very good quality surround system. I subscribed initially because I wanted to support Southern Gospel, but not when production values lack. Bill Bailey had a few problems initially too but his production got better with each concert. Unfortunately greed controls even the Christian marketplace and the record companies told him to cease and desist. Even though the artists performing didn’t seem to have a problem expanding their reach during Covid.

        Reply
        • David Bruce Murray

          I was subscribed to Singing News TV when they broadcasted Jeff Chapman’s first concert with Gold City back in April or May. That was a huge disappointment from a production standpoint. Jeff sounded fantastic, I’m sure, because he always does, but we couldn’t hear him.

          The live stuff they added from Singing In The Sun around that same time was great, though.

          Some of the old catalog stuff that looks like it was transferred from VHS tapes could be better. They hadn’t even bothered to normalize the audio on a couple I watched…just some basic stuff that could be improved.

          Reply
  2. Robin Milby

    I believe the McKameys were on at least one video as well. I think the Perrys were on a few of them. I’m not sure if either group was featured performing a song.

    Reply
    • David Bruce Murray

      The Perrys definitely were. I know they were featured on “I Wish I Could a’Been There.”

      I’m not sure about the McKameys.

      Reply
  3. Andrew S

    The McKameys appeared at the taping for the ‘This Is My Story’ video (maybe another video, too [?]). Connie was seated in the main choir area, and Peg & Carol (not sure about Ruben) were on the side. You can see them well on Babbie Mason’s “Stop by the Church.”

    “God on the Mountain” is on that video, but Lily Fern Weatherfors performed it. I can’t verify why they didn’t sing it, but, knowing their strong connection to the song, it does seem odd that they didn’t.

    Reply
    • David Bruce Murray

      Thanks Andrew,
      That’s one I did watch recently, and it’s the full-length 90-minute version. Part of the time, though, I just had it going in the background while I did things like I’m doing right now…replying to comments on the internet…so I didn’t notice them in the choir.

      Regarding singing someone else’s signature song when they’re sitting right there in the room, I noticed that happened when Gold City was there as well. It’s just awkward.

      Reply
  4. Isaac Olson

    From a YouTube comment by Skylar Weatherford:
    “It was an executive decision from Bill Gaither that grandma would sing it because Tracy Dartt[,] the man who wrote the song[,] was a member of the Weatherfords during the time he wrote it[.] [T]he Weatherfords… released the song before the McKameys.”

    Now one group I keep looking for on the Homecoming videos is The Dixie Echoes, specifically the lineup with Billy Todd. I know the Echoes were featured in the Gospel Jubilee videos, but I always keep an eye out for them when I’m watching the Homecoming videos.

    Reply

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