The network has long established itself as the premier destination for feel-good, idyllic, romantic movies and series the entire family can watch while cozying up under a warm blanket in PJs with a cup of hot cocoa or a glass of wine. This year, Hallmark has ambitious plans to bring even more original content to its audience.
After last year saw a record 38 holiday movie premieres on Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, 2019 will bring more than 100 -- 103, to be exact -- original films to the network, as well as its slate of primetime series, a docu-drama, daytime talk show Home & Family and lifestyle specials. (With it being the 10th anniversary of its popular "Countdown to Christmas" campaign, expect even bigger swings. The first announced holiday film, The Christmas Song, will star Kristin Chenoweth and Scott Wolf, and is directed by Eric Close.)
But with success comes growth and evolution; it's apparent this will be the year Hallmark will evolve as a network through its original content. Bill Abbott, President and CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, and Michelle Vicary, Executive VP of Programming and Network Publicity at Crown Media Family Networks, spoke to ET's Katie Krause at Hallmark's Television Critics Association press tour red carpet earlier this month, where they explained why they believed Hallmark has seen consistent growth in an increasingly competitive TV landscape.
"I think it's a number of different factors: Our movies are higher quality, the storytelling is better, the casting is better, production values are better. People love them and really, I think that's a big piece of it," Abbott said of the Hallmark .
"I can't tell you!" Vicary quipped. "You know, we have actors who have huge bodies of work and they'll go and run errands and people will go and say 'I loved you in all of our shows but what are you going to do [on] Hallmark in 2019 for Christmas?' It's so rewarding and so much fun to hear and such an honor to be part of it."
The Hallmark formula has proved successful over the years, with nearly all its movies reaching a happy ending and charting two people meeting and falling in love. How is Hallmark aiming to keep things exciting, fresh and modern?
"I think that our challenge to our team is to find casts that we haven't worked with yet," Vicary said, adding that it's important to "continue to deliver on the brand and do more of what we do and make people feel good and make them want to buy socks and mugs and decorate their towns like a Hallmark Christmas movie. Someone said it to me the other day that Hallmark is a movement for people that want to feel positive and so, we are here to be bigger and bolder in that way."
"Great casting. Good dialogue. Music is a key driver of emotions and really a big part of our content, so really music plays a role in keeping scenes fresh and keeping things fresh and situations fresh," Abbott said. "Overall, it's good writing and working with good people."
Asked if there was a dream star they would like to welcome into the Hallmark family, which includes Candace Cameron Bure, Lacey Chabert, Jodie Sweetin, Rachael Leigh Cook and Danica McKellar, Vicary played coy.
"I'm such a fan of so many people's work. I think there are so many women I would love to work with," she exclaimed. "I don't know if I could jinx it by putting it out there so I'm gonna say, I dunno if I could say!"