Brad Siegel is stepping down as vice chairman of Up, the family-friendly cabler he launched in 2004 as Gospel Music Channel.
Siegel, a cable vet who spent 10 years with Turner Broadcasting, said he felt the time was right for him to move on to new ventures. He noted that Up (which changed its name from GMC in 2012) has climbed from a humble beginnings in Tennessee with 1,700 subscribers at launch to nearly 70 million today.
The Atlanta-based company also has a solid exec team in place that will be restructured to fill the management void left by his departure, Siegel said. Siegel and Up also work closely with Magic Johnson’s Aspire cabler on programming and advertising sales.
Charley Humbard, who is founder and president-CEO of Up, praised Siegel’s role in nurturing both channels from their seedling stages.
“Building a cable brand into the second largest independent network in this challenging environment required a person with enormous energy, talent and relational strength. Having Brad as my partner for the last 10 years to develop Up TV into a leading destination for uplifting family entertainment has been enormously rewarding,” Humbard said. “Brad’s experience and relationships with advertisers and program distributors were invaluable in jump starting our business. He spearheaded our successful push into original programming, an initiative that we will continue to expand as we move into 2015, and was instrumental in the launch of Aspire. All of us at Up and Aspire wish Brad great success in his next endeavor.”
Siegel said he was considering a few options for his next move. Siegel teamed with Humbard, the son of TV preacher Rex Humbard, shortly after he left Turner, where he rose to president of Turner Entertainment Networks, in 2003. Even a decade ago, the launch of a purely indie cabler was a formidable task. Siegel recalled touring the country with the GMC Power Point presentation, leaning on his relationships with operators to gain carriage market by market.
“I dearly love this baby we birthed, but it is time for me to do something different,” Siegel said.
Up in the past few years has expanded significantly, especially with the sizable slate of original telepics aimed at viewers seeking family-friendly programming. The programming is not overtly faith-based but generally features uplifting and inspirational themes.
Aspire bowed on 2012 with a similar thrust although focused on African-American auds. The channel owned by Magic Johnson Enterprises was spurred by Comcast’s agreement with the FCC to give carriage to 10 independent channels as part of the conditions of its 2011 acquisition of NBCUniversal.
Before Turner, Siegel spent five years with AMC as veep of programming and production.
Brent Lang contributed to this report.