Hallmark Receives Positive Greetings From Q4 Scatter

Fledgling Hallmark Channel Thursday reported higher third quarter advertising sales and said pricing for its fourth quarter scatter inventory is selling at higher CPMs than the upfront.

Hallmark parent Crown Media Holdings reported a 27 percent increase to $51 million in the third quarter ended Sept. 30. Advertising revenues at the Hallmark Channel were $20.8 million, 15 percent higher than a year ago. Year-to-date advertising revenue was $66.8 million, up 30 percent from the nine-month period in 2002.

William Aliber, Crown's chief financial officer, said demand for scatter inventory is slow but Hallmark Channel has been getting a premium of between 5 percent and 20 percent on upfront pricing.

"Two months into Q4, we're pretty positive about where advertising is even though the market in general has been soft," Aliber said.

In the third quarter, Hallmark Channel added 15 new accounts, bringing its client roster to more than 300 advertiser. Among the new advertisers were Paramount and Pizza Hut, which Aliber noted targeted the 18- to 49-year-old demographic instead of Hallmark's traditional focus on 25-to-54. Hallmark's strategy isn't changing but Aliber said the channel was always looking for ways to bring in the younger demographic and that new programming - including "MASH," "Matlock" and "Little House on the Prairie" - is helping to do that. Aliber said increased distribution and viewership for the domestic version of the channel was driving advertising growth.



"Happily, we're seeing those trends continue into the fourth quarter and into 2004 as well," Aliber said.

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