Hallmark Publishing recently announced that it is releasing its first ebooks. All of these are based on original movies shown on Hallmark Channel or Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. The announcement indicates a hope for a larger publishing business, but within the definition of the Hallmark media empire. Using their words, “sweet romance novels and cozy mystery novels … The stories must celebrate friendship, family, and/or community ties, and must have a happy ending.”
This sounds like a great match between an audience and what it’s interested in. This is similar to how ESPN pledges to serve sports fans across any medium. And, by opening up future books to submissions from fledgling writers, there is also the potential for original books to make the crossover to movies.
In many ways, Hallmark found success by keeping one eye towards the past while looking to the future. Its cable networks have been very successful in recent years by their focus on positive, uplifting stories and in the celebration of traditional holidays. This is hardly the edgy content to which most cablers like AMC and FX are turning to drive audiences. And with pay TV supposedly on the downswing from cord-cutters, Hallmark relaunched its second cable channel and is starting a new one, Hallmark Drama.
Looking towards the digital future, aside from e-publishing, Hallmark has rebranded and relaunched its SVOD service called Hallmark Movies Now, which offers Hallmark cable content for $5 a month. There is also the Hallmark Channel Everywhere app.
Where are the Congratulations cards?
Of course, aside from its media assets, the overall Hallmark brand has many forays into digital such as e-cards, an app, and the online kids activity sites from Crayola (did you know they owned Crayola also?). Add in their big data assets – customer data from their online and brick-and-mortar stores or from the Hallmark Crown Rewards program, as well as its media audience data – and one can argue the Kansas City company is playing their multimedia cards pretty smartly.
David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
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