Hallmark Rival Great American Family Makes Major Move


Hallmark Channel rival network Great American Family is beefing up its content by merging with faith-based streaming service Pure Flix, the company announced in a press release.

Here’s what you need to know:

Great American Family & Pure Flix Want to Be Leaders in the Faith-Based Programming Space

Great American Media, the parent company of the Great American Family channel, announced in a press release that it was “join[ing] forces” with Sony Pictures Television’s faith-and-family streaming platform Pure Flix.

The deal is structured as follows:

Pure Flix will become part of the merged company, with Great American Media contributing two cable networks (Great American Family and Great American Living) and a [free, ad-supported television] channel (Great American Adventures). Great American Media will retain a majority interest in the merged company and will oversee day-to-day management of the independent organization.

Great American Media President and CEO, Bill Abbott, will serve as CEO of the merged entity, reporting to the company’s board of directors. The new company will build on the multi-faceted, multi-channel family and faith media brands in the portfolio.

Pure Flix and Great American Family both strive “to serve and delight consumers in the family and faith categories.” They see this merger as an opportunity for “each platform to reach a larger and broader audience” and “establish the company as a leader in the genres,” according to the press release.

“In a media environment where programming and distribution business models are in a constant state of flux, this agreement provides a rare opportunity to maximize our potential with the expertise, market knowledge and content creation capabilities of a world class partner like Sony Pictures,” said Abbott in a statement. “This merger will allow us to further our commitment to original, quality content and makes Great American Media and Pure Flix leaders in a large and under-served market.”

“Family-friendly entertainment remains an important segment of the industry, and merging these two entities will create the greatest opportunity to achieve more scale for Pure Flix as it continues to build its subscriber base. Bill and the Great American Media team have been successfully leading the Great American Family and Great American Living brands, and we believe they have a winning plan to take Pure Flix to even greater heights,” added Ravi Ahuja, chairman of Global Television Studios and Corporate Development for Sony Pictures.

Pure Flix has approximately 1 million subscribers, according to the press release. Great American Family, meanwhile, is still working on achieving the kind of viewership Hallmark enjoys and perhaps Pure Flix will get them there. In 2022, GAF was the No. 103-ranked cable network, averaging just under 80,000 primetime viewers, while the Hallmark Channel finished ranked 10th in cable networks with an average of 1.3 million primetime viewers, according to Next TV.

However, Great American Family is the No. 1-ranked network in growth in 2023, up 140 percent in daytime viewers and 130 percent in primetime viewers in 2023.

Great American Family Has Poached Several Big-Time Hallmark Stars

Abbott, the former CEO of Crown Media Holdings, the parent company of Hallmark, left Crown Media in June 2021 to cofound Great American Media. He then signed several high-profile Hallmark stars, most notably Candace Cameron Bure, a staple of Hallmark’s Christmas films and star of Hallmark’s Aurora Teagarden TV series.

When GAF hired Bure as its chief content officer, she told the Wall Street Journal in an interview that she moved away from Hallmark because GAF will “keep traditional marriage” at the heart of its programming.

“My heart wants to tell stories that have more meaning and purpose and depth behind them. I knew that the people behind Great American Family were Christians that love the Lord and wanted to promote faith programming and good family entertainment,” she said.

Abbott added, “Spiritual or faith-based content is grossly underserved … For me, [Bure is] the key piece of what we’re doing.”

Bure received some backlash over her comments and later issued a statement to Heavy that read in part, “All of you who know me, know beyond question that I have great love and affection for all people. It absolutely breaks my heart that anyone would ever think I intentionally would want to offend and hurt anyone. It saddens me that the media is often seeking to divide us, even around a subject as comforting and merry as Christmas movies. But, given the toxic climate in our culture right now, I shouldn’t be surprised. We need Christmas more than ever.

“I am a devoted Christian. Which means that I believe that every human being bears the image of God. Because of that, I am called to love all people, and I do. If you know me, you know that I am a person who loves fiercely and indiscriminately. My heart yearns to build bridges and bring people one step closer to God, to love others well, and to simply be a reflection of God’s huge love for all of us.”

Other Hallmark stars who signed deals with Great American Family include Trevor Donovan, Jen Lilley, Lori Loughlin, Jessica Lowndes, Debbie Matenopoulos, Cameron Mathison and Danica McKellar.

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