TWC Inks Carriage Deal With Hallmark

Long-Term Agreement Includes Movie Channel
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Crown Media has reached a carriage agreement with Time Warner Cable for its Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel, in a deal that could offer some encouragement to small, independent networks seeking carriage with the second largest cable operator in the country.

Time Warner Cable chairman and CEO Glenn Britt has been talking tough regarding carriage fees in the past few weeks, telling an audience at an industry conference earlier in December that TWC would not carry networks that it feels do not deliver adequate ratings for the prices they charge. Later in the month they backed up that claim, announcing that they would drop arts channel Ovation, which is currently available in about 51 million homes, in January. Time Warner Cable claimed it has paid Ovation about $10 million in carriage fees over the past several years, while the channel remains among the least viewed by its customers with less than 1% of TWC subscribers watching the channel on any given day.

While not a ratings powerhouse compared to the major networks, Hallmark Channel has a loyal following and its Holiday programming has delivered consistent viewership over the years – its “Countdown to Christmas” movie block in November was its highest rated ever, with a total of 21.4 million viewers watching programming like “Matchmaker Santa” and “It’s Christmas, Carol.”   

 According to Nielsen Media Research, The Hallmark Channel is available in about 87 million homes across the country, while Hallmark Movie Channel is available in about 49 million homes.

Time Warner Cable would not comment on terms of the deal. In a statement, the company said it had reached a “mutually beneficial long-term agreement” with Crown for the channels. Additional terms were not disclosed.

Crown appeared pleased with the deal.

“We are thrilled to continue to partner with TWC to provide high quality, family friendly channels to their subscribers, and we are very pleased that TWC sees the enormous value in our brand and content,” Crown Media CEO Bill Abbott said in a statement.