Hollywood honored what was supposed to be the best in television Sunday night at the Emmy Awards, but the entertainment elites predictably snubbed programming that is popular with everyday Americans — including the wholesome and positive content that comes out of The Hallmark Channel.
The Hallmark Channel may not produce the kind of shows that get Emmy love, critical praise, or notice from Hollywood at all, but flyover country — particularly red states — have been behind the channel’s booming success.
“As you look across the cable landscape, there are very few having the type of growth that both of our channels have seen,” said Ed Georger, executive vice president, advertising series and digital media, at Crown Media Family Networks, which operates Hallmark. He made his remarks at an event celebrating its success this year, according to Ad Week.
In the fourth quarter of 2016, Hallmark Channel was the highest-rated non-news cable network in total day among women 25 to 54, and the channel’s focus groups are finding a growing number of men are watching the channel with their wives as well.
The politically agnostic channel has become a refuge for Americans looking for wholesome films and programming with heart. Hallmark’s films are often about family, finding love, or communities coming together. Much of the programming tends to restore one’s faith in the goodness of humanity; it’s the kind of entertainment Hollywood eschews today.
Liz Smith, a mother and wife in Cape Coral, Florida, told LifeZette she is excited about the beginning of Hallmark’s Christmas movie lineup in late October. It’s marked on her calendar. She has the channel playing nonstop during Christmastime, when the network plays original Christmas films back to back.
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“The channel celebrates relationships. It’s a place to escape from the drama of politics and life and where you can simply see movies that celebrate love and family,” Smith told LifeZette. “The entire family can watch it.”
“The channel celebrates relationships.”
The films often feature strong female leads who must make important life decisions about family, career, and community.
“It seems there’s one script always with one woman and two guys. Usually, there’s a fork-in-the-road moment and the woman goes for the more traditional good guy with a big heart on a ranch,” said Smith.
The reason for Hallmark’s recent ratings success after 15 years of existence? Its enormous growth in the Midwest and the South.
The Hallmark Channel was the fourth most-watched channel on television in prime time during the week of the 2016 election, even beating out MSNBC.
“The environment is undeniably contentious. We are a place you can go and feel good,” Bill Abbott, the chief executive of Crown Media Family Networks, told The Washington Post.
According to a recent study reported in the Los Angeles Times — which polled 3,500 people across the nation — the majority of TV viewers who voted for Hillary Clinton last year were more interested in dark comedies, programs with unconventional families, and antiheroes — Hollywood’s favorite type of productions. Meanwhile, Donald Trump voters leaned more toward programs with traditional family values with moral plotlines and unconflicted heroes.
The study also found that Trump voters were likely to tune out programming that featured “depictions of gay people in sexual situations, negative portrayals of religion, and political humor.”
In a world in which Hollywood and the news cycle are trying to constantly shovel grievances and societal blame on hard-working Americans who are just trying to make ends meet and protect their kids against indoctrination by liberal propaganda, people just want a break from the daily tension and political preaching. Hallmark embraces the natural need for escapism with feel-good, family-friendly programming.
The network has been winning big in areas where Hollywood is willing to lose support.
In 2015, Hallmark acquired the syndication rights of the beloved conservative, Middle-America ABC series “Last Man Standing.”
“As our classic sitcom schedule continues to grow and bring in a solid ratings performance, ‘Last Man Standing’ fits right into the model of family-friendly entertainment that is at the core of our programming values,” Crown Media Family Networks Senior Vice President Darren Melameth told The Hollywood Reporter at the time.
In 2017, ABC missed the point of the sitcom’s popularity — and received major backlash when it abruptly canceled the show despite its being the network’s second highest-rated comedy.
Hollywood’s desire to win awards from progressive elites and leftist critics is hurting it — not only in television ratings, but at the box office, too. This summer’s theater attendance suffered a historic decline.
Entertainment critics have been revered as arbiters of taste for decades, but they have increasingly become activists in hailing socially “woke” television shows and films as masterpieces — even if the productions are average to a good deal of consumers.
Actor Thomas Sadoski (“John Wick,” TV’s “Life in Pieces”) told a panel on HLN’s “Unfiltered” last week that he no longer cares what Hollywood critics have to say. “I wouldn’t base success on critical opinions,” he said. “I don’t want to be taken seriously, in particular by Hollywood film critics. They are the least interesting, least artistic people out there.”
It’s time for Hollywood to begin questioning whether glowing critic reviews and awards still matter if no one is watching.
Hallmark, meanwhile, gets what a large swath of Americans want: the feel-good escapism discarded by Hollywood.