It was a sunny 70 degrees on a recent afternoon at the Universal Studios lot, but snowy winter reigned on the set of Hallmark Channel’s “Home and Family,” a two-hour daily talk show that tapes on the lot, not far from Hallmark Channel’s headquarters in Studio City.

“Home and Family” always reflects East Coast weather, so in January expect cooking segments about hot soups and stews, or tips on how to de-ice your car. “We are in California, but we are really speaking to the country,” said executive producer Tracy Verna.

Viewers of a recent show learned how to make snuggly mother-daughter beanies.

“It was adorable,” Verna said. “It’s feel-good TV. It’s a big hug.”

It’s also part of a programming slate that has overperformed for parent company Hallmark Cards Inc. of Kansas City, Mo., leading the cable channel to increase the number of movies produced along with their budgets.

Hallmark Channel – along with Hallmark Movies & Mysteries and Hallmark Drama channels – is part of New York-based Crown Media Family Networks, which was brought into private ownership in 2015 by Hallmark Cards.

The Hallmark channels enjoyed record ratings in 2017, largely fueled by a full slate of “Countdown to Christmas” movies with titles including “Switched at Christmas” and “The Christmas Train.”

The Hallmark Channel was the No. 3 watched cable television network with an average daily viewership of more than 2 million in mid-November. That led the channel to increase the number of movies on its schedule from about 85 to more than 90 in 2018, according to Bill Abbott, chief executive of Crown Media Family Networks.

The executive added that movie budgets also are increasing at Hallmark, ranging from an average of $2.2 million all the way up to $6 million.

Programming process

There’s a script for the Hallmark Channel’s success, and it hews closely to the greeting card business model.

Hallmark Channel follows it’s holiday-themed December with a January slate of equally sentimental and romantic “Winterfest” movies. Then, melt those icicles off your heart: Jan. 24 begins “Countdown to Valentine’s Day,” including the movies “My Secret Valentine,” “Very Very Valentine” and “Cooking With Love,” starring Ali Liebert as a TV producer who finds unlikely love with a celebrity chef (Brett Dalton) on the set of a children’s cooking show.

“We view Hallmark Channel as being representative of what you’d experience at retail, if you walk into a Hallmark store,” Abbott said. “We have a similar type of strategy in how we plot out the calendar, in terms of taking the viewer through the year… in a very crowded environment it allows us to break out and really be identified in a way I think is very unique in the entertainment space.”

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