The eight-year-old network will change its name to UP beginning Sept. 1, supported with a new logo and on-air look, GMC TV president and CEO Charley Humbard said.
Additionally, GMC TV parent company Gospel Music Channel LLC (part of the InterMedia Partners portfolio) will change its name to Up Entertainment LLC. The company also has a partnership with Aspire, the upstart African-American-targeted network owned by Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
The network, which originally launched as Gospel Music Channel in 2004, playing mostly Christian-themed music videos, has evolved into an entertainment-oriented network offering original gospel-themed stage plays and inspirational movies.
“We like to say we have been a brand that has offered uplifting entertainment, as well as uplifting entertainment [overall],” Humbard told Multichannel News. “Nothing’s changing on the channel programmatically, but it’s a way for us to bring clarity to the brand, and it gives punch to the network’s message of a place where viewers can turn to be uplifted, entertained and inspired.”
The new name and logo will start getting teased this summer though on-air promos and social media, Humbard said. UP will help better define the network to viewers than the current GMC TV name, which he said often confused viewers.
“When you want uplifting entertainment, you know that our brand is dependable,” Humbard said, but the GMC name didn’t convey the brand to viewers unfamiliar with the channel.
Humbard said he believes the new branding effort will resonate with distributors. The network is currently in 61 million households, including an increase of 10 million homes over the past four months through recent launches on Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, Humbard said. “Our biggest thing is awareness, and I think this [rebranding] will help in building that,” he said.
DirecTV executives said they are on board. “GMC’s new name UP is perfect for communicating its unique brand of inspiring entertainment,” said Paul Guyardo, chief revenue and marketing officer for the satellite service. “It’s fun, positive and clearly uplifting.”
The network, which counts as its competitors Hallmark Channel and other female-targeted networks like Lifetime, is coming off a record ratings year, posting a 34% year-to-year increase in total viewers and an 80% uptick in its target female 25-54 demo.
During the first half of 2013 the network will debut six original movies, five original gospel-themed stage plays and its first two original reality series, Family Addition with Leigh Anne Tuohy and The Bulloch Family Ranch.