Since launching in early 2015, the FORMED platform has expanded dramatically, offering a wider range of resources—studies, movies, audio books, e-books, and more—from a growing number of Catholic apostolates. Initially a collaboration of Lighthouse Catholic Media, Ignatius Press, and the Augustine Institute, FORMED now also includes content from Marian Missionaries, the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, Sophia Institute Press, EWTN, and Catholic Answers, among others. Individuals can subscribe to FORMED, and parishes and diocese can purchase group subscriptions for the members of their flocks.
And now, in addition to its “On Demand” service, FORMED has added a “Market” section, which will make more content available to users on a pay-per-view basis.
Catholic World Report spoke with Lou Reynolds, managing director FORMED/Tech Platforms, about the FORMED Market and what it means for Catholics interested in trustworthy resources ranging from family-friendly entertainment and spirituality to catechesis and apologetics.
CWR: What was the genesis of FORMED?
Lou Reynolds: FORMED came about in direct response to the call for a new evangelization issued by St. Pope John Paul II. The Augustine Institute took up that call and has been responding in a series of ways, including the development of a fully accredited Graduate School, the development of award-winning video and audio programs (including Symbolon and Lectio, among many others); that also includes the organization and development of the FORMED platform, which features a broad coalition of well-known Catholic apostolates (approximately 50 now) along with cutting-edge technology, allowing FORMED to become the platform for the New Evangelization.
CWR: Who is Augustine Institute working with? What are some immediate goals with the site?
Reynolds: In addition to Ignatius Press, we have a number of very respected content partners, such as Father Gaitely’s Marian Helpers, Scott Hahn’s St. Paul Center, Catholic Answers, Sophia Press, Rome Reports, Herald Entertainment, USCCB, and EWTN to name just a few. We would like to help every Catholic apostolate reach users worldwide and we have a number of initiatives well underway that will be game-changers. These are exciting times and we are at the cutting edge of using technology for evangelization.
CWR: What is FORMED Market? And how does it fit in with FORMED On Demand? Would it be accurate to describe it as a sort of “Catholic Amazon”?
Reynolds: With the new launch of the Market, FORMED will consist of three major components.
FORMED On Demand is the popular and highly successful service where subscribers can view FORMED subscription content (studies, movies, audio, e-books). It now has over 500,000 registered users, and is used by 3,400 parishes worldwide; we also have over 39 dioceses who have signed deals to use the service, including the entire Archdiocese of New York. FORMED On Demand has been called “Netflix for Catholics” as it features thousands carefully curated video/audio programs, e-books, and movies from a wide variety of trusted Catholic sources for a flat, recurring fee.
The new FORMED Market expands this incredible collection with even more premium content that is available for purchase and rent (a la carte). Think of it as iTunes, Audible, or Amazon Prime for Catholics. It allows us to get even more top-notch Catholic content that is not available for streaming services, and to offer it to our rapidly growing user base, which is eager for high-quality content.
The final component is a personal cloud library that allows users to assemble their own collection of favorites, which can be streamed or downloaded to any of their mobile devices and played offline. This is currently available with our iOS FORMED app and will soon be available on Android as well.
We will be adding other exciting components in the near future, but as you can see FORMED is becoming a complete ecosystem for top quality digital content for Catholics.
CWR: Looking at the bigger picture, what are your plans and hopes for FORMED in terms of serving the mission of the Church?
Reynolds: We hope to continue to serve as a trusted source of well-curated content that can help Catholics worldwide to understand, live, and share the Faith.