Bill Abbott, the former CEO of The Hallmark Channel, is involved in a new TV network. The news has left Hallmark viewers wondering if he might be working on a rival network. Here’s what we know so far.
Abbott Is Focused on Establishing New ‘Family-Friendly Programming’
Abbott, alongside Tom Hicks, is part of an investment group called GAC Media that has purchased two TV networks so far: Great American Country and Ride TV. Abbott is serving as the CEO and president of these new networks, Deadline reported.
Abbott told Deadline about the acquisitions and GAC Media’s future plans:
Even as the entertainment ecosystem continues to rapidly evolve – both in terms of distribution platforms and underlying content – consumer interest in family friendly programming that enriches lives and offers safe entertainment options remains as strong as ever. GAC and RIDE TV represent cornerstone assets in this respect, and we look forward to growing both channels even as we pursue the larger goal of establishing new, well-resourced and engaging family-friendly programming.
The focus on family-friendly programming has caused some Hallmark viewers to wonder if future endeavors might compete with the channel. On Twitter, @SleepKittyPaw, who tweets updates about Hallmark content, speculated this might mean a new slate of Christmas movies someday.
Others on Twitter also found the news interesting.
But Abbott has not made any indication of what type of family-friendly programming he’s going to focus on. In a press release, GAC Media noted: “Together, GAC and RIDE TV constitute the first two channels in GAC Media’s larger effort to revitalize and invest in family-friendly programming that is both timeless and entertaining.”
Abbott will run GAC and Ride TV as the President & CEO, while also overseeing “a prompt review of additional content opportunities,” the press release noted.
Abbott’s Investment Group Purchased ‘Great American Country’ & Ride 24
In June 2021, GAC Media announced that it had purchased Great American Country from Discovery. Great American Country is a cable TV network based in Tennessee that started out as a country music channel, but later expanded to include lifestyle programming. It was launched in 1995 with Garth Brook’s “The Thunder Rolls” music video. In 2004, E.W. Scripps Company acquired Great American Country. In 2013, the channel was rebranded to include lifestyle programming like “Farm Kings” and “Celebrity Motor Homes.”
Bloomberg reported that a source said GAC Media purchased the network for about $90 million. Hicks Equity Partners is backing the purchase. The group has previously tried to purchase One American News Network or Newsmax TV.
GAC Media also acquired Ride TV, a 24-hour equestrian network. Ride TV launched in 2014.
GAC Media has said that these are its first investments in family-friendly programming, Deadline reported. Abbott’s role will include looking into new TV content opportunities, along with advertising and distribution initiatives.
Abbott left The Hallmark Channel in January 2020 after 11 years, The Hollywood Reporter reported. He left following controversies over same-sex commercials that were removed from the channel during the Christmas season. In July 2020, Hallmark brought on Wonya Lucas as the new CEO and president of The Hallmark Channel.