The Hallmark Channel has sometimes been called TV's version of comfort food. And that's OK -- nothing wrong with providing people what they want, especially when it takes the form of friendly, calm and soothing content that's a welcome escape from a crazy world.
Since coming on the air in 2001, the channel has carved out a perfect niche as a place for unexpected romances, rekindled relationships and opportunities to discover the holiday spirit even in the most hardened of hearts. A programming formula blending original films, scripted series and favorite syndicated programs from the past has led the network to constantly pull in high viewership as well as create excellent opportunities for advertisers eager to connect with engaged audiences.
In 2022, the Hallmark Channel, including its various sub-channels like Hallmark Mysteries and Movies as well as Hallmark Drama, was designated the most-watched network on entertainment cable. Among other impressive numbers, its holiday movies that year recorded an average of 2 million viewers apiece.
For third and fourth quarter of 2023, the channel is hoping to duplicate or even exceed the success of last year with a variety of programs and promotions, including new original films and shows, fun viewer promotions, as well as a focus on repackaging hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of seasonal content from past years.
Beyond the typical cooler-weather compulsion that makes many viewers head inside, get comfy and turn on the TV, there's another factor this fall: there's less good stuff to watch and it's likely going to get worse. Hollywood writers, actors and their supporters continue to strike, and both sides seem to have dug in with no firm resolution predicted in the near future. Market insights gathered by The Myers Report suggest the strike could last until the Christmas season that Hallmark dominates already.
For the film industry, this has already led to a shuffling of fall and winter blockbusters into 2024, leaving fewer solid options in their places. In the TV world, the networks are going to run out of summer fare soon and will rely on more reality shows, quiz and competition events, sports and reruns. For advertisers, audiences available from advertising supported sources will continue to erode as more viewers turn to streaming content. The stand-off between Charter/Spectrum and Disney may have been resolved, but its intent will inevitably spread to other multi-video programming distributors (i.e. cable operators). Hallmark's streaming subscription service, while not currently ad supported, may decide to satisfy advertiser demand and offer an ad-supported option.
For businesses interested in reaching the potentially millions of viewers eager to feel good, enjoy happy endings and maybe appreciate murder cases solved in an hour, here are highlights of what's ahead from Hallmark. The fun begins with the "Fall Into Love" promotion with four new movies combined with an opportunity for viewers to enter daily to win a $10,000 shopping spree.
Original movies include (see photos above):
If you missed any of 2022's "Fall into Love" titles -- or want to rewatch favorites -- they're all here, as well as many other movies and series episodes where autumn is a part of the story.
Good things are also coming to the Movies and Mysteries area too, including Guiding Emily, which shows the challenges a woman losing her vision goes through as well while her seeing-eye dog has a hard time with his lessons. Sarah Drew plays Emily and Eric McCormack is the voice of her dog, Garth.
In addition to original Hallmark content, Movies and Mysteries is now home to favorite syndicated TV mystery series from the past, including Psych, Matlock, and Murder She Wrote. Audiences can include nostalgia fans as well as newcomers discovering these popular sleuth shows, maybe even wanting to binge watch them all.
As always, the feel-good lineup includes everything from holiday baking to holiday romances. Some of the final schedule officially remains under wraps until October, but the channel did announce sneak peeks of a few original productions in July.
One includes the sequel to last year's hit Haul Out the Holly, bringing back the hilarious cast including Lacey Chabert, Ellen Travolta, Wes Brown and Melissa Peterman. Haul Out the Holly: Lit Up continues the personal and professional craziness that befall members and officers of a homeowner's association.
Another is A Biltmore Christmas, starring Bethany Joy Lenz and Kristoffer Polaha. Set in Asheville, N.C., at the historic Biltmore Estate, it involves a little bit of history, movie magic, and even some time travel.
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The opinions expressed here are the author's views and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage.org/MyersBizNet.