Things are perking along so well for Atlanta-based Gospel Music Channel that BRAD SIEGEL is practically singing “hallelujah”. Cable operators and cable subscribers recently voted GMC three separate #1 ratings, naming GMC the #1 emerging network, #1 in audience attentiveness to advertising and #1 in family viewing. Siegel and GMC President and CEO CHARLES HUMBARD are thrilled to see the progress of their vision, which was hatched at Ted’s Montana Grill in Atlanta, ironically for both men.
“Charlie had the vision,” Siegel shared. “He’d been around TV and gospel music his whole life. His dad was the first TV evangelist, REX HUMBARD.” Sadly, Rex Humbard, Sr. passed away the day after Siegel gave this interview.
The two men had a ton of TV experience: Siegel is a former president of Turner Broadcasting’s entertainment networks, while Humbard, who also spent time at Turner, is, is a former Sr. VP and general manager of Discovery Nets. Like good marketers, they saw a huge void in the TV world and decided to fill it. Thus, the only 24/7 television network featuring Christian and gospel music was born.
Marketing a new entity has been “a lot of hard work, traveling with the sales team to get distribution and advertisers on board,” Siegel said. “But it’s been a lot of fun, too.” The marketing blueprint followed the same formula as the overall channel: TV + Music + Faith + Quality = a loyal fan base and a tremendous opportunity.
“We have a great partner in Blue Sky Agency,” Siegel continued. “And our in-house team with CSD KEVIN WAGNER is brilliant. It all starts with great creative.”
Using a mix of traditional media and new, GMC also added a grassroots component and is reaching out to the churches across the country, who in turn are helping spread the word about the channel. Working directly with churches, GMC offers a partnership program: the channel would be able to spread programming information via the churches, who in turn would be on the channel website and be eligible to win a concert by GMC talent at their location. Marketing to passionate fans has worked, and GMC now has a Music Ministry Partnership division.
Keeping in touch with their loyal viewers is Job One for the GMC marketers. “We used traditional media and Gospel and Contemporary Christian Radio to launch, and we know that our own on-air is the strongest place for our message,” Siegel continued. In addition to the traditional marketing channels, GMC’s focus now combines their website, their email and database connection, their grass roots outreach and their ministry marketing.
“The artists go out of their way to support the network,“ Siegel explained. “They talk about Gospel Music Channel from the stage, on the radio, on their websites and more to all their audiences and fans.” Music stars play a big role in GMC’s on-air spots.
What’s on the GMC horizon, besides the goal to be “well north of 30 million” subscribers by the end of ’08? “I want to develop one or two series that become true ‘hit’ shows,” said Siegel.