Joining the growing list of traditional TV programmers with stand-alone streaming video on demand offerings, Crown Media says it is set to launch Hallmark Movies Now.
The $5.99 monthly (or $59.99 annually) streaming service will debut Oct. 3 on iOS, Android, Roku and Amazon Fire. The platform, described as wholly separate from Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, will offer
800 to 1,000 hours of family friendly content not available on linear channels. Content will be refreshed weekly.
Hallmark has long been a prolific producer of original movies, as well as holiday juggernaut Countdown to Christmas. It also runs family-friendly syndicated fare such as The Golden Girls and Frasier. Hallmark is in 88 million homes and the newer movie sibling in 67 million.
The announcement, part of a blitz of Crown releases at TCA, noted that MVPDs carrying the linear networks will be able to add Hallmark Movies Now as a supplement for their customers. That shoutout to traditional operators speaks to the delicate balance many programmers are trying to strike, as distributors balk at higher fees and the amount of cord-cutting and retransmission disputes keeps rising. Customers are playing the field, streaming and recombining favorite platforms as the traditional bundle is rethought, and programmers want to meet that demand and not lose any more ground to Neflix & Co.
Premium networks like HBO and Showtime have rolled out stand-alone SVODs over the past couple of years, as have CBS, Turner and NBCUniversal. Many others are still taking their time with the transition, aware of some bears on Wall Street who insist streaming will never mature into a profitable business. ESPN has promised a stand-alone in the coming months. AMC just launched a premium linear commercial-free service, and the potential for launching such a service seems to be baked into today’s acquisition of Scripps by Discovery.
Crown’s announcement emphasized that the time was right to explore streaming.
“As we continue to see demand for our unique brand of family-friendly programming grow on our linear channels, the launch of Hallmark Movies Now is the natural next step in our distribution strategy,” said Erin McIlvain, Crown’s EVP of distribution and content strategy. “Over the last 15 years we have collected a considerable library of content and this new service will allow subscribers to stream and enjoy a differentiated lineup of programming – whenever they want and wherever they are.”