Some people may mock the holiday movies shown on the Hallmark Channel as being sappy and predictable, but they sure do watch them.
According to Crown Media, the parent of Hallmark and its sister network Hallmark Movies Mysteries, the network attracted more female viewers (aged 18 to 49 and 25 to 54) than any other cable network during the fourth quarter. Furthermore, Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas slate of holiday movies delivered more households and female viewers than ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox on Saturday nights in the 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. time slot during its nine-week run. The movies attracted an average audience of 3.5 million viewers and 641,000 women aged 25 to 54, the target demographic.
Christmas at Graceland was the highest rated of all the Hallmark holiday movies. The film stars American Idol alum Kellie Pickler as Laurel, a high-powered Chicago executive who travels to Memphis to take over the city’s oldest family-owned bank. Along the way, she crosses paths with an ex-boyfriend/musical partner named Clay who rekindles her passion for music that was snuffed out when they were on the cusp of stardom.
Hallmark showed 37 holiday-themed movies in 2018, an increase from 34 in 2017. As I noted previously, Hallmark is producing two movies with Hanukkah themes for its 2019 season when the Jewish Festival of Lights overlaps with Christmas. The script of one called Holiday Date is being written. Details on the other feature aren’t available.
To be sure, Hallmark has gotten holiday movies down to a science. Many of them have modest production budgets of around $3 million and are shot in Vancouver, Canada. A roster of well-known actors such as Danica McKellar, Candace Cameron Bure, Lori Loughlin and Lacy Chabert have appeared in them for years.
Hallmark can afford to take the jokes about its movies in stride. According to the company, Hallmark earned $600 million in advertising revenue last year.
Viewers don’t have to wait 11 months for their Hallmark fix. The channel is debuting new films on Saturdays during January’s Winterfest promotion. Winter Castle, the first Winterfest movie, was the highest-rated and most-watched cable program of the week excluding news and sports during its January 5 debut. It tells the story of Jenny, who falls in love with Craig, the best man at her sister’s destination wedding at an ice hotel.
February brings more tales of romance in Countdown to Valentine’s Day. Valentine in the Vinyard is a story about partners in the winemaking business who wind up simultaneously planning their wedding in secret and the nuptials of a relative in public. As if that weren’t romantic enough, there’s The Story of Us, in which which Jamie confronts an old flame named Sawyer, the architect of plans that will change her neighborhood and threaten her beloved bookstore.
Note: I have updated the revenue figure for Hallmark.