East Tenn. 'mega-family' doing well in ratings on new network

Posted at 6:51 PM, Jan 06, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-07 13:38:58-05

An East Tennessee “mega-family” that had its own TV show on the TLC network in 2012 has moved on to a new network this year, and they’re already resonating with women viewers.

UP TV’s “Bringing Up Bates,” a successor to TLC’s “United Bates of America,” set UP network records with female viewers with its debut last Thursday – particularly women age 25-54. The debut episode had an average audience of more than a half million viewers.

The Bates – Gil and Kelly Jo, their 19 children and newborn grandchild – live in Rocky Top (formerly known as Lake City) and are described by the network as “an ultra-conservative American family with larger-than-life personalities.” Their fame grew out of their friendship with another mega-family led by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar of Arkansas, who are stars of TLC’s “19 Kids & Counting,” which debuted in 2008. Gil and Kelly Jo are both South Carolina natives.

Future episodes of the 30-minute “Bringing Up Bates” will debut at 9 p.m. on Jan. 8 and Jan. 15.

Atlanta-based UP TV, which was formerly the Gospel Music Channel (2004-2010) and then GMC (2010-2013), rebranded to shift its focus to family-friendly movies and other programming. The channel can be seen in 67 million homes.