Hallmark Renews Carriage Deal with EchoStar

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Hallmark Channel has renewed its carriage deal with EchoStar and, in doing so, picked up an extra 5 million subscriptions.

Under the multi-year deal, the satellite service will continue to carry the Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel on its DISH Network.The deal involved affiliate fees, but the Hallmark Channel, which is one of the top 10 rated cable channels, also will move to the AT200 package. The package is essentially an expanded basic tier that will boost its carriage--cable and satellite--from 76.2 million to north of 80 million.

The Hallmark Movie Channel has an EchoStar footprint of about 5 million subscriptions

Hallmark, which is owned by Crown Media Holdings,

recently re-upped with Mediacom

and has been pushing for more money and eyeballs for its channel because of its strong ratings and family-friendly programming. The channel wsa tied for sixth among all Nielsen-rated, ad supported cable nets in the most recent rankings.

Hallmark President and

CEO Henry Schlieff

has been working hard to position the channel as an alternative to edgy programming fare catching heat in Washington.

He would not say whether EchoStar had boosted affiliate fees, but said he was happy both with the added subs and the price.

Schlieff said he is also happy with the advertising scatter market in the first and second quarters, where he told analysts Thursday the channel is getting 36% CPM (cost-per-thousand) increases year-to-year and over 40% increases over the upfront market.
Schlieff said he thought the retrans fights between cable and broadcasters was a tide that had raised all boats, and that cable operators would start seeing the value in locking up channels like his for reasonable rates.

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