Television

Hallmark parent Crown Media achieves new landmarks

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The Hallmark channel is gallopping ahead if one goes by the annual numbers released by its parent Crown Media Holdings. Crown claims that its subscribers globally increased 35 per cent to 91.5 million worldwide as of 31 March 2002, from 67.6 million subscribers at the same time in 2001. Some 44.9 million of these subscribers are from the US while 46.6 million of them are spread over 110 countries.

Crown Media's gross revenues increased to $41.4 million in the first quarter of 2002, a 68 per cent increase from $24.7 million in the first quarter of 2001 while net revenue in the same period increased 71 per cent to $39.5 million, from $23.0 million in the prior year's quarter. The difference in gross and net revenues is due to the netting of subscriber acquisition costs and other fees against revenue.

Crown says the channel is in fine fettle in terms of viewership too. During the first quarter of 2002, it achieved its highest-rated quarter in network history in the US, according to Nielsen Media Research, averaging a 0.6 primetime household rating. This represented a 50 per cent increase from the fourth quarter of 2001. The Hallmark Channel US has shown the most growth in primetime household delivery among all advertising-supported cable networks since its launch on 5 August 2001, the company says.

It is taking steps to improve the viewership numbers further: in March 2002, it announced that it would commission 24 movies to be produced by Hallmark Entertainment, which will premier on the channel before Christmas 2002. These films cover a wide array of genres, including dramas, mysteries, and westerns.

Additionally, it announced recently that it had struck a long-term programming agreement with Paramount Domestic Television under which which the network secured the rights to dozens of Paramount's top films, comedies, dramas and westerns, and series, including Perry Mason, Hogan's Heroes, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Rawhide.

Finally, Crown Media in the US has purchased an original one-hour non-scripted reality series, Adoption, portraying real-life experiences of people who have been involved in the process of trying to adopt a child. Produced exclusively for the Hallmark Channel US by Hallmark Entertainment, the series is to premier early next month.

Says a jubiliant Crown Media Holdings CEO David Evans: "We are very pleased with the continued success of the Hallmark Channel, as is evident by increased ratings performance both in the US and abroad."

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