04/02/15: Hallmark Movies and Mysteries


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BEHIND THE SCENES at the Upfronts
The People! The Parties! The Buzz!a

We’ve got the Upfront updates on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

Rebrand Rejuvenation
There’s no mystery when it comes to the reason behind the September 2014 rebranding of the Hallmark Movie Channel to Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. “We felt the market is underserved when it comes to character-driven series in the mystery genre,” explains Bill Abbott, President & CEO of Crown Media Family Networks. “What we’re doing is different from other networks. There’s no gore. It’s more in the vein of Matlock, Murder She Wrote and Columbo


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In addition to beefing up its mystery offerings, the rebranding involved creating a new logo and dropping the word “Channel” from the network’s name to better position it for long-term growth. “The reimagined brand better identifies the network as a wholly distinct destination from Hallmark Channel, while more fully realizing its potential in the rapidly changing multi-screen universe,” explains Susanne McAvoy, Executive Vice President of Marketing, Communications and creative for Crown Media Family Networks.

So far, repositioning the network has paid off. At year’s end, the network ranked #6 among all 106 ad-supported cable networks in total day for viewer growth year-to-year. “Adding mysteries to the mix helped elevate the network’s position as one of the most unique destinations on cable for viewers and advertisers alike,” says Abbott. Hallmark Movies & Mysteries is currently in more than 56 million homes, and there are deals in place to get to 60 million by the start of the 2015-16 season. “We’re optimistic that as we progressively roll out original content in 2015, our audience will continue to grow,” he adds.

On the Radar
Since its rebranding last year, the network introduced a Mystery ‘Wheel’, featuring a rotation of four distinct movie franchises: Garage Sale Mystery
, Gourmet Detective, Hanna Swensen Mysteries and Aurora Teagarden. Each franchise consists of three to four movies following the same primary characters and playing out over the course of several months.New installments will see the light of day come April and May, including the third Garage Sale Mystery: The Deadly Room (April 11); the Hanna Swensen Mystery titled Murder, She Baked: A Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery starring Ali Sweeney from The Biggest Loser (May 2); and the premiere of Gourmet Detective: A Healthy Place to Die, which stars Dylan Neal and Brooke Burns as a mystery-solving duo (May 16). Abbott adds that a number of follow-up movies for these franchises for 2016 have been greenlit, too.

“We’re also excited to be working with Sony and Tom Selleck on a new Jesse Stone telepic, which is filming now,” Abbott says. “We forged a relationship with them when we acquired the Jesse Stone movie series, based on the Robert B. Parker novel, which was hugely popular with our viewers. We think the series will be a key part of our network moving forward.”

Same strategy, different year
“I don’t think we’ve changed the way we look at Upfront season as a result of how programming has evolved into a year-round effort. We’ve taken a strategic approach to each agency and advertiser and negotiation,” says Abbott.



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Just Asking…
Backstage at the Upfronts caught up with the ever-endearing Alison Sweeney, who stars in Murder, She Baked: A Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery and opened up about her affinity for both sweet tweets and sweet treats.

Guilty pleasure TV show?
I’d have to say Survivor

Job youd most like to have but know you never will?
I would love to be a baker!

Last text you sent?
I sent a link to a funny animal video to my kids before we face-timed to laugh about it.

TV character you most want to be?
I want to be Claire from Outlander. For the obvious reasons. 

Last thing you ate?
A chocolate chip cookie. Just kidding! But they are so tempting! Last thing I ate, for real? A kale smoothie.

Quote of The Day
“The truth is, we do it as well as anyone out there, and we have a lot of confidence moving into this season.” – Bill Abbott

– reported by Michele Shapiro

Coming up in Backstage at the Upfronts, hitting your mailbox at 6pm!

Country stars, bourbon balls, short ribs and waffles – yesterday was the Upfront shindig for CMT, home of Party Down South, and we have all the details.

ASPiRE’s Upfront news includes Magic in the Making, a series hosted by network founder and former LA Laker Magic Johnson.

Keep Watching & Reading,
Lynn Leahey, Editor
Roberta Caploe: Associate Publisher @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group 

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