Hallmark Skews Younger: More Movies, More Martha
Hallmark Channels' efforts to gain a younger-skewing audience are aided by Martha Stewart programming as well as younger-targeted movies.
"We looked to develop new product that was more contemporary stars, more romance, more holidays and less mysteries and Westerns that has dragged down our median age," says Ed Georger, executive vice president of advertising sales for Hallmark Channels.
Georger was speaking just after Hallmark's upfront presentation on Tuesday in New York.
Hallmark's centerpiece efforts have always included movies. The network said it would produce 24 new movies in 2011, which will include stars such as Jennifer Beals, Catherine Bell, Jacqueline Bisset, Frances Fisher, Brian Austin Green, Jesse Metcalfe, Jodi Lyn O'Keefe and Doris Roberts.
Hallmark's audience goals aren't what other TV networks look for in younger demos. Its target is to lower its 55-plus audience to more of a 25-54 audience.
Georger says a key ingredient is starting off a block of daytime shows from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, which includes a library of some 140 shows from "The Martha Stewart Show" in syndication. Those will begin March 29.
"From an ad sales point of view, having Martha Stewart is a game changer," he says.
Hallmark's efforts, he says, are to broaden out daytime and early fringe with more similar lifestyle programming. For example, MSLO also has the rights to the Emeril Lagasse food brand name. In addition, it wants to create other programs from other producers.
"She will be a big part of our network," says Georger. "But this isn't the Martha Stewart Channel."
While Hallmark will manage, sell, and control the inventory in the Martha Stewart shows, Georger says the financial arrangement with MSLO is a partnership.
This comes from tapping new advertisers Hallmark hasn't had before, in categories such as food, beauty, home products, pets and gardening. "We have already seen interest from appliances," says Georger.
Concerning its Hallmark Movie Channel, now in 40 million homes, Georger says the channel will be Nielsen-rated coming this fall. This is probably a bit sooner (at a smaller subscriber level) than other cable channels might attempt, but demand is there.
Georger says interest comes from Hallmark's long history of producing TV movies, as well as the family-friendly nature of its films. "Advertisers want to be part of this."