Crown Media Family Networks Recognized as Market Leader: Exclusive Interview

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With the rapid evolution of viewing habits and increasingly fragmented audiences, many cable networks are suffering sharp declines in viewership as tracked by Nielsen. But one linear programmer is rising to the top with consistent year-over-year growth. Crown Media Family Networks, home of Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, has registered significant and consistent increases in ratings and delivery across both networks … and this fact is not lost on the marketplace.

A recent industry quiz fielded by MediaVillage demonstrated a high level of industry awareness of the ongoing success enjoyed by Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. MediaVillage’s Industry IQ quiz attracted entries from more than 100 agency, advertiser and network executives who put their television knowledge to the test in a 20-question multiple-choice challenge. Seventy-percent of agency and brand executives accurately recognized Hallmark Channel as the network that owns the most holiday programming while 77% correctly answered that Crown Media premieres the most original movies in all of television. For full questions and answers to the quiz, click here.

While the marketplace may be cognizant of the facts, is it equally aware of the reasons these facts prove true? Charlotte Lipman spoke with Crown Media Executive Vice President of Advertising Sales Ed Georger to learn more.

Charlotte Lipman: Nearly 60% of agency and advertiser executives correctly answered that of A&E, Bravo, Hallmark Channel, TNT and USA, Hallmark Channel is the only network to have grown over 20% with women 18-49 in the last five years. How do you explain continued growth in ratings when most networks are in the red?

Ed Georger: It starts with the foundation of the Hallmark brand, which has a 100-plus year legacy and is associated with family, holidays, special occasions and celebrations. So when people come to our networks they have a level of trust and know what to expect. Another thing that sets us apart is our stake on family entertainment … programming that viewers of all ages can enjoy. We have two distinct networks with no duplication in content that are doing something no one else is doing. Hallmark Channel is all about seasonal celebrations and tradition and it delivers light-hearted programming that makes people feel good. And Hallmark Movies & Mysteries has really come into its own in the last couple of years. The network features more dramatic, suspenseful and thought-provoking content that stays true to the family-friendly promise.

Charlotte: Most respondents to the Industry IQ quiz demonstrated an understanding that Crown Media Family Networks offers sponsorship opportunities during key time periods. How are these opportunities unique and valuable?

Ed: Each of our networks offers something totally unique for marketers. With a year-round programming event strategy, Hallmark Channel creates seasonal environments that sync up with those key times of the year when marketers want to convey specific messages. From Countdown to Christmas and Countdown to Valentine’s Day to Fall Harvest and Thanksgiving Weekend Event to Spring Fling and Summer Nights, these branded destinations throughout the year offer a seamless platform that aligns perfectly with the advertisers’ objectives at any given time. Hallmark Channel is also the only network on television to air an original two-hour daytime lifestyle program five days a week, 52-weeks a year – "Home & Family."The topical nature of the show is a goldmine for advertisers and presents endless integration opportunities.

Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, one of the fastest growing networks in cable, offers a totally distinct value proposition. The network’s Mystery Wheels, in particular, have really struck a chord and are paying off for advertisers. Because these franchises follow the same primary characters in several movies throughout the year, they are similar to traditional series whereby viewers become deeply invested and tune in again and again.

Charlotte: While a lot of other big network groups are nixing their annual Upfront events, you did your first one ever. Why now?

Ed: Why not now?! We are in such a position of strength and have such a diverse slate of programming across both our networks -- so we wanted to make some real noise about the incredible value we bring to the marketplace. In a lot of ways, our Upfront at the Rainbow Room was a celebration of our success together with our advertising partners. And for those who have yet to come on board, it was the right time for us to make a bold statement, impressing upon buyers the magnitude of opportunities our networks offer. Also, the fact that so many other networks are ditching their events, while we stepped up, really sets us apart and makes a statement in and of itself.

Charlotte: Speaking of the Upfronts, how are things going so far?

Ed: In addition to our Upfront event, our strategy was to meet with clients early and listen.  Listen to their challenges and objectives and then come back to them with solutions that will help drive their business goals.  We have also been clear in pointing out the value proposition we deliver and the growth that we have experienced.  I think at the end of the day clients will continue to recognize our value and we will have a very successful Upfront … together.

The highest scorers and prize winners for the MediaVillage quiz included executives from Active International, Carmichael Lynch, Experian, GroupM, Hill Holiday/Trillia, Liberty Mutual, OMD and Starcom MediaVest.

The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, Inc. management or associated bloggers.

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