Hallmark, Martha Make House


New York — With Martha
Stewart programming set to
anchor daytime, and the movie
network spinoff about to become
Nielsen-rated, Hallmark Channels
is looking to open more
doors with advertisers.

Hallmark Channel, while retaining
its commitment to original
telepics, is evolving into a
lifestyle network centered around
holidays and the seasons, according
to officials at the network’s
upfront press presentation here
March 23. Meanwhile, sister service
Hallmark Movie Channel
is poised to off er a pair of original
movies of its own, become
Nielsen-rated in the second quarter
and build its current base of 33
million subscribers to 40 million
in the fourth quarter.

Executive vice president of advertising
sales Edward Georger
called the developments in daytime
and with the movie network
“game-changing situations.
Things look so much different
than in years past.”

Starting March 29, Hallmark
Channel will launch a seven-hour
weekday block (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
of library fare from Martha Stewart
Living Omnimedia, including
From Martha’s Kitchen, From
Martha’s Home and From Martha’s
Garden as well as other titles,
with a shorter block of similar programming
on the weekends.

This will serve as a precursor to
new and exclusive episodes of Th e
Martha Stewart Show weekdays at
10 a.m. this fall, following the end
of the show’s five-year run in syndication
and part of the exclusive
deal signed in January by Hallmark
and MSLO, which will also
yield a half-dozen primetime specials
with the doyenne of homemaking.
The new installments of
Stewart’s program will be followed
by a talk show, still in development,
that Crown Media Holdings
president and CEO Bill Abbott likened
to the fourth hour of NBC’s
Today; it will feature Stewart as
a regular contributor. The network’s
new menu will showcase
a half-hour cooking show,
followed by MSLO library fare,
and other new shows being developed
by the media company.
Hallmark Channel senior vice
president of programming Barbara
Fisher said the network is
also eyeing its own development
of unscripted lifestyle series.

“We’re committed to daytime as
a daypart and we think the originals
and lifestyle programming are going
to open opportunities because
many other networks air syndicated
repeats,” said Georger, noting
that Hallmark’s ad team is handling
media sales. MSLO is providing an
assist with integrated opportunities
and opening doors to its extant clients,
including companies she does
business with, such as Macy’s and
Home Depot.

Although the MLSO alliance
thrusts Hallmark into competition
with the likes of Scripps’ Food Network,
HGTV and Cooking Channel,
which will be baked from Fine
Living at the end of May, the packaged
goods, cleaning, home décor,
crafts and food categories should
naturally orbit around Stewart and
the related programming, according
to Georger.

As for Hallmark Movie Channel,
it will bow its first original film —
The Wild Girl, starring Brian Austin
Green (Beverly Hills 90210) and
Oscar-nominated Graham Greene
(Dances With Wolves) — on April
24, and its second, After The Fall,
in October, according to Fisher.
That total is expected to double in
2011 and perhaps reach six original
telepics the following year.

Abbott said those entries, along
with the mothership’s move toward
lifestyle fare, will help differentiate
the brands. “A lot of
spinoffs cannibalize [their progenitor].
We’re looking to move
audience,” he said, noting that
HMC will continue to present a
host of Hallmark Hall of Fame
programming and other legacy titles.
“Most networks don’t become
Nielsen-rated until they’re in 50
million homes. We’re confident
the [ratings] numbers are going to
be there and we’re guaranteeing
them to advertisers.”