Family Viewing…..A Tradition That Continues

Bill AbbottBy William J. Abbott

President and Chief Executive Officer, Crown Media Family Networks.

There was a time when gathering in front of the television set was a family tradition. It was a unifying experience, with all members of a household enjoying common entertainment together. Choices were generally limited, but most everything on the dial was fare appropriate for the whole family.


Over the last 15 – 20 years, however, the rapid expansion of the cable universe — and, more recently, the emergence of on-demand viewing, TV Everywhere, and OTT platforms — has drastically altered what, how, and where we consume programming.  Inevitably, audiences have splintered with the diversification of offerings, as programmers increasingly tailor their brands and content to niche demographics. With this explosion of individual choice there is, quite literally, something for everyone, but very little for all. The very notion of family co-viewing, has for the most part, become a quaint anachronism.


The lack of programming appropriate and entertaining for the whole family presents a challenge for nostalgic parents who grew up watching TV with their own parents, and like the idea of watching with their kids. At Crown Media Family Networks, home of Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel, we aim to fill this void for quality, inspirational, and family-friendly programming – programming that is anchored in rich, compelling stories that appeal to viewers of all ages. Parents know that when they tune into one of our networks, they don’t have to worry about content unfit for their children, no mater their age. Crown Media has a diverse slate that includes original movies, a daytime lifestyle show Home & Family, annual specials like Kitten Bowl and Hero Dog Awards, and — most of all – a record-breaking holiday programming franchise, Countdown to Christmas, which has become a seasonal tradition for our viewers.


In addition to making our networks a safe zone for parents, Crown Media fills a vacuum for advertisers, offering an optimal environment and value proposition for marketers with family-oriented messages. Legacy family brands like the J.M. Smucker Company, P&G, and Walmart – to name a few – are long-time, dedicated partners and commit significant spends to both our networks every year.


Recently, we expanded our programming slate to include original primetime scripted series on Hallmark Channel. With new episodes airing every week, these programs offer a true appointment viewing opportunity – bringing back that age-old custom of families assembling in front of the TV to watch as a group. There is a clear appetite for wholesome, heart-warming original episodic programming, as evidenced by the success of our first two series. Cedar Cove, which premiered last July, reached 17.5 million viewers and averaged a 2.0 household rating, making Hallmark Channel the #1 rated cable network on Saturday’s 8-9p throughout its first season.  Season One of When Calls the Heart, which culminated in April, averaged a 1.6 household rating and reached 13.7 million viewers.


 Our most recent series, Signed, Sealed, Delivered, airing on Sunday nights at 8pm is the quintessential family program, conceived by Martha Williamson, the creative mind behind one of the most cherished family dramas in television history, Touched by an Angel.


We truly embrace the range of offerings available today. Choice is essential to the evolution and growth of our business and there is a great deal of outstanding programming across the cable universe. As one of the only family-friendly networks on television we at Crown Media offer a distinct choice of our own — the choice for those parents and those families who still believe that television remains an experience to be shared.



William J. Abbott is president and chief executive officer of Crown Media Family Networks, home of Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel, which is owned and operated by Crown Media Holdings, Inc. He oversees a team of seasoned executives who manage the day-to-day operations of all facets of both channels, including programming, marketing, ad sales, communications and media relations, distribution, finance, legal, and digital initiatives. Abbott is an industry veteran with more than 25 years of leadership experience in family television, with nearly 15 years at Crown Media Family Networks.

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