Former Hallmark CEO Launching New TV Channel with Original, Holiday Movies

Getty Bill Abbott attends a Hallmark Channel event in 2019.

Bill Abbott, the former CEO of The Hallmark Channel, is launching two new TV channels. One is going to be dedicated to providing original, family-friendly movies, including movies with holiday themes.

GAC Family Will Provide Original Movies Related to Holidays & Other Occasions

Abbott is launching two new channels under the umbrella of the company GAC Media. These are launching on September 27 and will be called GAC Family and GAC Living, according to a press release shared on LinkedIn.

The GAC Family channel has the tagline “Stories Well Told” and is an evolution of what was originally the Great American Country channel. It will include scripted content that will “evolve to include a slate of family friendly original movies and series that celebrate relationships and the emotional connections related to holidays, seasons and occasions,” the press release noted.

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. The channel is already carried by multiple cable networks and can also be watched on streaming services like Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV, and Philo. It’s not clear when the new original movies will start premiering on GAC Family.

Meanwhile, the GAC Living channel is an evolution of the Ride TV network, which GAC Media also acquired. GAC Living will focus on unscripted lifestyle content and will be GAC Family’s “unscripted companion.” This channel’s tagline is “Life Well Lived.” The press release noted that it will “draw on established themes and talent to highlight celebrations and seasons with a focus on southern and country living.”

Programming slates for both channels are not yet available and will be announced later.

Abbott said in a statement:

At GAC we’re focused on creating strong brands, compelling programming and a consistent family friendly viewing experience across multiple genres. The launch of GAC Family and GAC Living is the next phase in our strategy to bolster the company’s portfolio with networks that deliver on the promise of safe and entertaining storytelling that enriches lives.

Abbott left The Hallmark Channel in January 2020 after 11 years, The Hollywood Reporter reported. In July 2020, Hallmark brought on Wonya Lucas as the new CEO and president of The Hallmark Channel.

GAC Media Purchased Great American Country from Discovery for About $90 Million

In June, GAC Media announced that it had purchased Great American Country from Discovery. Bloomberg reported that a source said GAC Media purchased the network for about $90 million. Hicks Equity Partners backed the purchase. The group has previously tried to purchase One American News Network and Newsmax TV.

GAC Media said these are its first investments in family-friendly programming, Deadline reported.

In a press release at the time of the purchase, 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.”

In June, Abbott told Deadline about 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.

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