It's not exactly on the level of cable's siphoning of big-ticket sports, but premieres of Hallmark Hall of Fame specials are moving from broadcast to cable.
The series has been a broadcast TV staple for over 60 years, starting with Amahl and the Night Visitors in 1951, and for kids proved something of a gilt-edged guarantee of being able to stay up late on a schoolnight.
“Over the past three years the 'Hallmark Hall of Fame' has had higher total viewership via ABC and Hallmark Channel than in any three-year period in the past decade,” said Brad Moore, president of Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions, of the ABC deal. “We’ve enjoyed the success and our working relationships with both ABC and Hallmark Channel."
ABC had had the initial airing for the periodic, highly acclaimed specials — it was CBS before that — with Hallmark Channel getting to air them a week later. But according to Hallmark executive VP, programming and network publicity, Michelle Vicary, the channel was able to demonstrate that it could pull the viewers for cable-only play.
Asked if the move was because ABC did not want to continue, Vicary said no. "This was a case of 'Hallmark Hall of Fame' and the Hallmark Card Company looking to engage the most viewers possible and, in the ever-changing broadcast landscape, Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries was able to demonstrate that we could reach a broader audience because of our ability to run the movie more than one time."
Hallmark Channel will now get premieres and multiple-runs of Hall of Fame presentations. Where appropriate, they could also run on Hallmark Movie Channel, which is becoming Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Oct. 1, with a focus on the softer side of suspense and mystery. Hallmark Movie airings would probably include the holiday-themed Hall of Fame specials, since the movie channel will continue to feature its popular holiday-themed movie fare.
The move of Hall of Fame starts with the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation, One Christmas Eve, on Nov. 30.