Hallmark Discovers an Underserved Audience
If you read this column before, then you’re possibly familiar with my constant writings about the Hallmark Channel, a subsidiary of Kansas City-based greeting card and stationery giant Hallmark Cards.
The company seems like an unlikely Avengers-type superhero team trying to save the culture from Hollywood’s ongoing politicization and smut on the surface. Yet, here they are creating high quality, apolitical, and original family-friendly movies and shows that the entertainment industry has been ignoring lately. And that especially appeals greatly to red states.
The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research’s Steve Malanga said it perfectly in a Los Angeles Times op-ed written earlier this year:
Hallmark follows a strategy that once defined mainstream television. Its dramas and mysteries, for instance, are untouched by the violence and gore that characterize so much of crime TV these days. And Hallmark’s romantic dramas have happy endings. Not surprisingly, the two networks do best with this programming outside the nation’s major urban markets, where Clinton voters dominate. Viewership is up to 50% higher in smaller markets.
This isn’t Hallmark’s first foray into television, however. In the 1950’s, they started the long-running Hallmark Hall of Fame series, which was moved to the network in 2014. This anthology series has won numerous awards throughout its run. It shouldn’t, and isn’t, a surprise that Hallmark is as successful it is today with uplifting family fare, especially because of the reasons Malanga mentioned above.
Here’s an example. This past weekend, the Season 3 premiere of the network’s original series Chesapeake Shores completely crushed it in terms of scripted TV airing on Sundays, continuing its reign as the Hallmark Channel’s highest rated show with 1.6 million viewers tuning in. That’s amazing.
There’s no doubt that Hollywood has taken a very sharp turn to the left over the past decade, pushing content that offends or doesn’t resonate with any Americans who just want to escape from the realities of everyday life, or at least watch storylines they can relate to.
Programming like the racist HBO special Random Acts of Flyness – which aired just recently, revivals of left-wing sitcoms like NBC’s Will & Grace and the upcoming revival of CBS’s Murphy Brown, or any program airing on certain streaming services may have gotten some acclaim from coastal elites, but they lost many others in the process.
The viewers that were alienated over the years – especially cord-cutters – have been looking for a reason to return to cable TV. And with its family fare, Hallmark continues to give it to them. With some exceptions, most of Hollywood hasn’t even seen the writing on the wall. How is it good business to create movies and TV shows that most of the country is going to be turned away by, especially in the age of cord-cutting?
One would have thought that the success of the Hallmark Channel would have caused the entertainment industry to try to replicate it – not vice versa. Remember Freeform, the network that is now a propaganda tool for young progressives? Back when it was known as The Family Channel, it was a dominant force in family fare, especially around Christmastime. Had it not changed its format to cater to millennials with smut, it would have retained that dominance when it came to Christmas movies.
It goes to show that most TV and film executives seem to write off the success of TV shows in rural and suburban areas who voted for Donald Trump as unusual. The Hallmark Channel, on the other hand, takes its traditional-minded audience seriously.
They’re willing to actually figure out what their audience wants, content that’s uplifting, wholesome, and optimistic. Is most of this content predictable? Definitely. Corny? Absolutely. But, as long as it’s uplifting, that’s all that matters.
Despite what certain sources might say, Hallmark and its viewers are not racist, and the movies and shows Hallmark airs aren’t Trumpian propaganda. They’re feel-good television that is much-needed in these uncertain cultural times, no matter what political affiliation you belong to.
Let’s face it, the culture has nothing but ridicule and contempt for those not living in Los Angeles, New York, or any other big cities in the country. So, should we expect other cable channels and the major broadcast networks to replicate the Hallmark Channel’s success by putting out their own feel-good content, even during the holidays? It’s highly unlikely that will happen.
Despite Hollywood elites giving each other awards and patting each other on the back, millions are voting with their remotes. They’re looking forward to seeing where the network that’s proud to call itself “The Heart of TV” takes its feel-good specialty in the politically and culturally divided world we live in… maybe through the 2020 election season.