Gospel Spreads the Word

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Gospel Music Channel has a hit a few distribution notes at launch.

Just six months after its formation, the independent service — featuring gospel and Christian music videos, concerts and artist biographies — was slated to bow Oct. 30 on overbuilders PurDigital Media in Atlanta and with the Jackson Energy Authority in Jackson, Tenn., according to Charles Humbard, the former Discovery Communications Inc. executive who is serving as CEO.

Those launches will be followed by November rollouts on systems in Quitman and Waynesboro, Miss., operated by Cable Management Associates, and Cox Communications Inc. systems in western Texas. Cox will then add the service in Macon, Ga., and Baton Rouge, La. in December.

Humbard, who is working on the service with vice chairman Brad Siegel, the ex-Turner Broadcasting System Inc. executive, among others, said Gospel Music Channel should count 2.5 million subscribers by year-end.

Carriage negotiations are continuing with other distributors, according to Humbard, who characterized the network’s rate card as one offering “long-term price predictability.”

Asked to elaborate, Humbard said the service — which counts Alpine Capital and Constellation Ventures among its financial backers — is charging an undisclosed monthly license fee.

Humbard said Gospel Music Channel has resonated with distributors eager to drive digital-cable packages.

“The average gospel-music enthusiast is a 37-year-old mom, upper-income and with an upper education. Families are also interested in this network,” he said. “These demographics line up well with digital.”

To encourage distribution and support the carriers on board, Humbard said Gospel will be turning to a host of concerts, artists appearances and other grass-roots efforts to keep spreading the word.

It plans upcoming concerts in west Texas and Baton Rouge and expects Cox to participate in co-branding initiatives there.

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