Family-friendly UPtv celebrates Easter with original, earned programming that includes two prime-time faith-based film premieres this Sunday.
original movies, Faith, Hope and Love, which follows the faith journey of a divorced dance studio owner, and small group — in which a faith-doubting documentarian infiltrates a church congregation — are part of the network’s week-long “Easter Lives Here” programming stunt that launched April 10 and included acquired films such as The passion of Christ and The ten Commandments. Also on Easter Sunday, the network will launch a gospel music special, Stellar music of hope.
With UPtv’s annual Easter and Christmas programming cascades – plus digital expansion via UP Network’s $5.99 per month SVOD service Faith and Family and FAST Aspire TV Life and Cine Romántico channels in Spanish – the network over the past two years has delivered its best-ever revenue, according to UPtv founder and CEO Charlie Humbard.
Humbard spoke to Multichannel news on the direction of the network’s Easter programming as well as the growing appeal of the network’s faith-based and family-friendly offerings. An edited version of the interview appears below.
MCN: What drives UPtv’s viewership and viewership?
Charlie Humbard: I think our lineup was well situated for the unfortunate circumstances we all faced going through COVID. We’ve had our best two years for the company, and that’s a big testament to the stress of the world around us today and the search for that safe haven where people celebrate family and faith. Our programming helps affirm your beliefs in family, relationships and faith, so it has a unique appeal. We are well suited to schedule those holidays that really celebrate that like Easter and Christmas.
MCN: Why doesn’t Easter generate a lot of original programming from other networks?
CH: I find it interesting that they didn’t, but Easter is something we’ve been celebrating for years. We were the first cable network to air The Passion of the Christ in 2014 and it remains the highest rated content we’ve ever had. There is an audience there for this time of year that celebrates the family and religious aspect of this holiday. Easter to us is like Christmas, and we bring to Easter the aspect of faith that others may tend to avoid. But Easter is about faith, renewal and forgiveness, and the Easter story can be adapted to contemporary themes. Our [Easter weekend] the movies have an element of faith, but they’re also stories of relationships that have a much wider appeal.
MCN: What role has the network’s UP Faith and Family streaming service played in the network’s recent commercial success?
CH: Our subscription service now exceeds one million subscribers, and we have a very strong programming offering there with both religious and family content. I like to say it’s Netflix without the dark stuff – it’s programming for every generation. It has really helped our business grow. ■