With Cannes Lions now in the rearview mirror, more media companies will be focusing on crossing the upfront finish line ahead of next week’s July 4 holiday. The first one to wrap its upfront business this week is Crown Media Family Networks, owner of Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, which said today it has completed its upfront negotiations.
The company said it secured double-digit increases in both CPM (cost per thousand viewers reached) and volume. Demand was strongest this year in the retail and telecommunications categories.
As usual, buyers were drawn to Hallmark’s brand-safe content, particularly the annual Countdown to Christmas event—its round-the-clock, two-month holiday movie marathon—which will celebrate its 10th anniversary this fall. Over the past two years, Countdown to Christmas has made Hallmark Channel the most-watched cable network in the fourth quarter among women 25-54 and women 18-49.
“It’s working, and we’re proud of it,” Ed Georger, evp of ad sales and digital media, Crown Media Family Networks, said earlier this year of the brand, which is enjoying ratings growth; meanwhile, many competitors’ ratings are falling, leading them to “artificially raise prices for the wrong reasons.”
At this year’s upfront presentation, Georger and CEO Bill Abbott highlighted the durability of the Hallmark brand, which has been around for more than a century, the stability of network leadership (the duo is starting its 20th year together at the company) and the continuity of the network’s brand, while many other networks “have either rebranded or relaunched or been bought by someone else,” Georger said.
The company’s third linear network, Hallmark Drama, wasn’t “a key focus” in this year’s upfront, given that it is only available in 15 million homes,” Georger told Adweek in March. But the upstart network’s “early strength” gives him confidence it will be a significant part of next year’s upfront pitch.