Crown Media has reached a carriage agreement with Time Warner Cable for its Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel, in a deal that could offer some encouragement to small, independent networks seeking carriage with the second largest cable operator in the country.
Time Warner Cable chairman and CEO Glenn Britt has been talking tough regarding carriage fees in the past few weeks, telling an audience at an industry conference earlier in December that TWC would not carry networks that it feels do not deliver adequate ratings for the prices they charge. Later in the month they backed up that claim, announcing that they would drop arts channel Ovation, which is currently available in about 51 million homes, in January. Time Warner Cable claimed it has paid Ovation about $10 million in carriage fees over the past several years, while the channel remains among the least viewed by its customers with less than 1% of TWC subscribers watching the channel on any given day.
While not a ratings powerhouse compared to the major networks, Hallmark Channel has a loyal following and its Holiday programming has delivered consistent viewership over the years -- its "Countdown to Christmas" movie block in November was its highest rated ever, with a total of 21.4 million viewers watching programming like Matchmaker Santa and It's Christmas, Carol.