The owner of Hallmark Channel in the US, which recently introduced a new lifestyle programming block fronted by Martha Stewart, has returned to profit in the third quarter.
Crown Media yesterday reported a profit of US$5.9m for the three months ending September 30, compared with a loss of US$10.2m for the same period a year earlier.
On September 13, Hallmark Channel introduced a daytime block called Home, anchored by the sixth season of The Martha Stewart Show, plus other original lifestyle series Mad Hungry With Lucinda and Whatever With Alexis & Jennifer. Crown said yesterday: “While ratings were initially below expectations, in the six weeks since airing they are showing a positive trend with a steadily building audience.”
Last week, Stewart’s company Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia reported a dip in Q3 revenue, which it attributed in part to the transition of the presenter’s flagship show from broadcast syndication to its new home on cablenet Hallmark.
As for Crown, the new programming helped ad revenue rise 4% to US$48.5m, but higher CPM rates were also partly responsible. These gains were offset by lower ratings across demographics, said the company. Ad revenue at the Hallmark Movie channel almost doubled, from US$2.4m to US$4.6m.
A carriage dispute with AT&T, which saw the Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie channel dropped from the telco’s U-Verse IPTV service at the start of last month, contributed to a 13% dip in subscriber fees, down to US$14m.
“Our third quarter was marked by the implementation of some important strategic initiatives, which will further strengthen our advertising revenue stream and appeal to distributors,” said Crown president and CEO Bill Abbott.
“We launched an exciting lifestyle block, the first step in a process of establishing several original series in daytime centred on home and celebrations that appeal to a loyal following of women 25-54.”