So, I was originally going to write a review for Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver. Hallmark, however, had other plans. Instead of airing the movie like they had promised, the company decided to start their “Miracles of Christmas” line-up a week earlier than expected. What will happen to the aforementioned mystery movie, you ask? According to the official Hallmark Movies & Mysteries website, the film will premiere next January. I was not pleased by what Hallmark had done. Not only was I looking forward to watching and reviewing this project, but the network had broken a promise they kept with their audience. Other people have already expressed their frustrations on the internet, even one twitter user named Sabrina suggesting that an article should be written about all the times when Hallmark went back on their word in relation to their program scheduling. That comment and Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver’s disappearance is what inspired me to write this editorial. Anyone who has paid attention to the shenanigans would know that this is not the first time Hallmark has done something like this in 2019. In this article, I will discuss some of the drama that has been caused by the network’s choices. For this conversation, I will only be focusing on what has happened in 2019 alone.
Removing Movies from the Schedule
As I mentioned in the introduction, Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver was supposed to premiere on October 20th. This release date was first revealed on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ Crossword Mysteries & Friends Preview Special that aired on August 18th. The release date was featured again in the movie’s official trailer, where the announcer stated that the film would be “the last all new mystery of the year before “Miracles of Christmas” starts”. As I also mentioned, Hallmark chose to skip this movie and start their “Miracles of Christmas” line-up as soon as possible. Many people have speculated that the reason behind the decision was to beat Lifetime at the Christmas movie game. See, because Hallmark has been airing their line-ups earlier every year, the networks have decided to follow their lead. According to Lifetime’s official website, they were planning on starting their Christmas line-up, appropriately called “It’s A Wonderful Lifetime” on October 25th, the same day that both Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries were going to begin their line-ups. Meanwhile, on UP Network, the “Christmas Movie Christmas” line-up starts on October 27th. Every network wants to participate in this so called “game” because they know there are business opportunities to be made in this particular time of the year. They would like a piece of the action too, as well as create a sense of variety in the types of programming that gets released. If one network receives all the power and glory, this is going to hold the other networks back from reaching their full potential.
In 2019, Hallmark Channel has also seen some movies disappear from various seasonal line-ups. The first one to go was In the Key of Love. This movie was featured during Hallmark Channel’s June Weddings Preview Special, which aired May 25th. Not only did this film receive a synopsis, but two scenes from the movie were also presented during the preview special. In the Key of Love was originally scheduled for a June 29th release. But before the end of June, the movie was replaced with Sister of the Bride, a movie that received little to no marketing. As for In the Key of Love, it was moved to Hallmark Movies Now with an August release date. Speaking of June, Megan Stein, from Country Living, wrote an article in early June about how Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries would each premiere a brand-new movie during their “Christmas in July” line-ups. But, similar to what happened with In the Key of Love, A Merry Christmas Match, the movie that was supposed to air on Hallmark Channel, was removed from the schedule and will now be the first movie to premiere during Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ “Miracles of Christmas” line-up. In September, Country Living’s Megan Stein also wrote about Hallmark Channel’s Fall Harvest line-up. In that article, she reported that there were going to be five movies premiering over the course of about a month and a half. However, two of those movies, Love Under the Olive Tree and Country at Heart, mysteriously disappeared and haven’t received alternative release dates. This means that for this particular line-up, fans were given two fall themed movies and one that had nothing to do with autumn.
An Inconsistent Narrative
At the beginning of 2019, Hallmark Channel made an announcement through various commercials that they would be airing a new movie every Saturday night for an entire year. But when we take a closer look at the schedule we ended up receiving, it shows that this statement became another one of Hallmark’s broken promises. The only two new movies that premiered on a Saturday in July were Love Unleashed and Rome in Love. Forever in My Heart was the only new movie to receive a Saturday release date in September. However, it seems like Hallmark Channel is doing a better job at keeping another promise they made earlier this year. Jennifer Aldrich, from Country Living, discussed in February how Hallmark Channel was planning on airing a Christmas movie every Friday night in correlation with the 10th Anniversary of their “Countdown to Christmas” line-up. Hallmark has not only kept this promise, but they’ve also done something similar with Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. To celebrate this aforementioned 10th anniversary, Hallmark’s second network decided to air a Christmas movie every Thursday night. From the looks of it, it seems like if it’s not Christmas related, it’s not worth Hallmark’s time.
Leaving the Fans and Customers in the Dark
Throughout all of this craziness, Hallmark has never issued or even attempted to issue any sort of press release about these changes. Fans who were confused about why In the Key of Love was replaced with another movie had to learn about the film’s new release date from the film’s lead actress herself, Laura Osnes. As for the rest of the movies I mentioned in this article, no explanations have been given about why they moved or why they disappeared. Hallmark claims to be interactive with their fans, from live-tweeting during new movies to creating the “royal court survey”. But when it comes to these recent changes, the network has been silent about what’s been going on. They haven’t even apologized for inconveniencing their fans and customers. One of the reasons why Hallmark has been so successful is the relationship they’ve formed with their fans. Decisions like the ones I talked about could cause this relationship to be severed.
My Thoughts on Hallmark’s Choices
Based on everything I’ve seen, heard, and read, I think that Hallmark’s lack of communication toward their fans and customers is only half of the problem. The other problem, in my opinion, is the network’s singularly-focused obsession with Christmas. In July, when I participated in the Christmas in July Blogathon from Christmas TV History, I shared that because of how big and popular their Christmas line-ups have become, Hallmark puts so much focus on them that their other priorities have fallen to the wayside. These scheduling conflicts and mishaps are just one example of this. No company can survive on one thing alone, which includes Hallmark. They were never intended to be about Christmas only, but about various holidays and celebrations. While both of Hallmark’s networks have found success during the Christmas season, they have gone overboard in their attempt to “win” against other networks and platforms. For a few years now, I have said that Hallmark’s success could ultimately lead to their failure. This is because there will come a time when these Christmas line-ups become too big for the company to handle. If Hallmark wants to protect their long-term success, they need to have better communication with their fans. Hallmark’s fans and customers are the ones who helped make “Countdown to Christmas” and “Miracles of Christmas” the success it is today because they chose to watch Hallmark’s content. This is something that Hallmark has to remember when making any decision that could affect their fanbase. The other thing that Hallmark needs to do is pull back the reins on their Christmas line-ups. As thankful as I am that Hallmark goes through the effort to make Christmas movies at all, I believe that over twenty movies is excessive. They have to put their attention on making quality films instead of creating more than everyone else.
Have fun at the movies!
Here are all of the references that I included in my editorial:
From Hallmark Channel’s Youtube Channel: “Full Special – June Weddings Preview Special | Hallmark Channel” (the segment about In the Key of Love starts on 22:07 and ends on 24:34)
From Hallmark Channel’s Youtube Channel: “Countdown to Christmas – 10th Anniversary – Friday Nights”
From Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Youtube Channel: “Full Episode – Crossword Mysteries & Friends Preview Special | Hallmark Movies & Mysteries” (the segment about In the Key of Love starts on 6:19 and ends on 9:17)
From Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Youtube Channel: “Christmas Thursdays – Hallmark Movies & Mysteries”