UP Entertainment CEO Charley Humbard shares how the network is expanding its uplifting, family-oriented programming in 2018.
Posted in , Jan 24, 2018
UP Entertainment CEO Charley Humbard is creating entertainment the whole family can enjoy.
For decades, Humbard worked in the entertainment industry, serving as a senior executive at Discovery Networks and helping the company usher in seven new cable networks in 140 countries. Then, 9/11 happened.
“It was a time in my life, like many Americans, that I paused and kind of rethought what was important,” Humbard tells Guideposts.org. He decided to leave Discovery to focus his love for TV and entertainment on creating content that would uplift and inspire people and encourage family connections. Humbard had grown up in the church, his dad was famed televangelist Rex Humbard, and gospel music was a passion of his. He spent years building connections, raising funds to do just that through the launch of the Gospel Music Channel (GMC) in 2004. Once the channel made it to air the network quickly expanded as more viewers were looking for faith-based entertainment on TV.
“We were hearing things from viewers like, ‘Hey, why don't you air this movie?’ things that had faith to them or things that were really good for families,” Humbard explains. “We went out and we bought a Make-a-Wish series that Amy Grant had done. It was a little mini-series, and tried that on the network and got a really good response to it. It really began from that point.”
The network rebranded from GMC to UP TV and started focusing on not only faith-based content, like gospel music, but on movies, series, and original programming that families could enjoy.
“We've really put a special focus on families,” Humbard says of the rebranding. “We like to say we get family. If you look at the channel today and the different shows that make us up from Growing Up McGhee to Parenthood to Bringing Up Bates, it's a great look at all different kinds of families and relationships for our viewers. I like to say we're probably the most relatable channel on TV.”
Whether it’s reality shows about the hilarious dynamics of families, scripted comedies about single dads, or dramas about people reconnecting with their roots, the channel boasts exclusively wholesome original programming. And if you still love old favorites like 7th Heaven, Gilmore Girls, and Sister, Sister , there’s plenty of opportunity to re-watch those shows as well. Humbard also partnered with Magic Johnson to help launch ASPiRE, a network focused on bringing inspirational, uplifting stories of African American families to TV.
“As people move into widening their relationships, getting married or having a different kind of family, they change the way they think about how they spend their time, what their priorities are, and they change a little bit about their entertainment choices as well, especially if they have kids in the home,” he says of the motivation behind UP TV’s programming choices. “The stories we tell…really appeal to them.”
To help families access the channel on the go, the network recently announced its first direct to consumer app for its subscription service UP Faith & Family. It’s just another way Humbard hopes to better serve viewers.
“It is really a way to super serve the fan base because you'll find a lot more faithful titles, Christian titles on that platform than you will on the network itself,” Humbard explains.“So it gives people a chance to go deep into some of their favorite movies or favorite series.”
Subscribers gain access to over 1,000 titles from the networks, including favorite shows, more faith-based programming, and multigenerational content that can be enjoyed by the whole family. And Humbard’s proud that, at the price of $5.99 a month, they’ve been able to make the service affordable.
“I think it's a very unique destination for entertainment programming that promises to always leave you in a better place,” he says of UP TV and its new app. “You'll laugh a lot. You'll cry a good cry. And I think in the end, you'll feel really good about the time you spent with us. And you can't say that about a lot of brands and markets today, obviously--especially on television.”
For Humbard, who’s amassed over 40 years in the business, being able to combine his passion for entertainment with his faith-driven purpose of inspiring and uplifting others is a dream job, one he hopes to continue doing for years to come.
“I think it's a dream really to be able to go to work every day and do something that is positive and impacts our world in a good way,” Humbard says. “We're a purpose-driven business and we were a purpose-driven business long before it was cool to be one, I guess. But it's all about inspiring hearts to be better. So that's what we do every day when we come to work and create these different programming and entertainment experiences for viewers.”