Hallmark Channel’s "Kitten Bowl VI": A Program with a Purrpose

By Crown Media InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: Hallmark Channel’s "Kitten Bowl VI":  A Program with a Purrpose

In my three years’ contributing to MediaVillage, I’ve been tasked with some hard-hitting assignments.  So, it was no surprise when our editor, Ed Martin, reached out to see if I might be available to report from the sidelines of a major sporting event.  His one-line email read, “Are you still our official Kitten Bowl correspondent?”

It’s a title I wear proudly, having attended previous tapings of the Kitten Bowl, which has been telecast Super Bowl Sundays on Hallmark Channel for the past five years.  In a follow-up communication, Ed referred to me as MediaVillage’s “Hallmark Kitten Ambassador” because I’m not only a serious journalist but also a friend of the cats.

All kidding aside, this is hardly a fluff piece.  Actually, now all kidding aside, Hallmark Channel’s Kitten Bowl has resulted in 20K animal adoptions since its inception five years ago.  Part of Crown Media Family Network’s corporate pet initiative, Adoption Ever After, the Kitten Bowl aims to educate audiences on pet adoption and place homeless animals with loving families. The Kitten Bowl features adoptable “cat-letes” on a feline-friendly football field, plenty of adorable tackles and five-yard dashes.

Taping of Kitten Bowl VI took place August 15 in Manhattan, earlier than in previous years owing to the high number of kittens currently in shelters.  The spring and summer months mark kitten season, when overpopulation of homeless kittens hits its peak.  This year, Hallmark Channel will add an inaugural Cat Bowl over Super Bowl weekend to call attention to the number of adult cats also in need of homes. Adoption and rescue stories are interspersed throughout footage of feline gameplay.

“Hallmark Channel is the heart of TV so it’s the perfect fit,” said Beth Stern (pictured below left, with me), six-time Kitten Bowl host, current foster mom to 28 cats and spokespersonfor North Shore Animal League America, the world’s largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization.  Hallmark Channel partners with Long Island-based North Shore Animal League on the Kitten Bowl and on shelter parties across the country, which encourage pet adoption at local shelters.  One thousand parties are planned for 2019.

Stern, born to animal lovers and rescuers, grew up with dogs, cats, chickens, guinea pigs and even hermit crabs.  "It’s in my blood,” she said of her passion for animals.  “We treated our pets as family members.  You bring a living thing into your home, it automatically becomes part of the family.”  That’s a feeling integral to Hallmark’s Adoption Ever After message.  The network's daily lifestyle program Home & Family has placed more than 600 animals in forever homes.

The focus here may be on adoption but, as Stern shared, fostering animals saves lives.  She advised that those interested in ending the homeless pet epidemic contact their local shelters to learn more about fostering.  “They’re able to take in more animals at the shelter when animals can be placed in homes to be fostered," she said.  "It’s so rewarding.  It’s been the best part of my life.”  Sideline scuttlebutt had it that two foster kittens were heading home with Stern after the big game.

Kitten Bowl VIwill be telecast February 3, 2019.

Photo credit: Charlotte Lipman and Ava Travella

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