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  • Writer's pictureThomas Bonifield

Great American Family Riding High after the Christmas Season

Updated: Jan 5, 2023

The upstart competitor of the Hallmark Channel is the fastest-growing network on American cable television.

Candace Cameron Bure and Marc Blucas pose for a picture during production of the 2022 Great American Family made-for-TV movie "A Christmas...Present."
Candace Cameron Bure and Marc Blucas pose for a picture during production of the 2022 made-for-TV movie "A Christmas...Present." Image: Great American Family/Instagram.

What a big year 2022 was for Great American Family. Not only did the channel poach top talent from the Hallmark networks - Christian actresses Candace Cameron Bure, Danica McKellar and Jen Lilley - but it is now growing its audience by leaps and bounds. According to a press release from the new channel, it topped several ratings categories for growth in the fourth quarter, and that is among all cable channels.

The logo for Great American Family channel.
Image: Great American Family/Facebook.

The family-friendly network, founded two years ago by former Hallmark Channel head man Bill Abbott, claimed the top spots among all cable venues for ratings growth in total-day viewers (up 116%), in the 18 to 49-year-old demographic (up 100%), and in households (up 113%). The numbers come from Nielsen, the top ratings tracker, and also included a win for the channel during primetime viewing: ratings growth in the households category (up 128%).

Unsurprisingly, Great American Family is citing its Christmas programming as the primary catalyst for the improvement, pointing specifically to the aforementioned actresses and the increased volume of new pictures during the Yuletide season.

"Fourth Quarter 2022 viewership growth was driven by the network’s Great American Christmas franchise which featured 18 original Christmas movies and fan-favorite stars including Candace Cameron Bure, Danica McKellar, Gladys Knight, Jen Lilley and more."

While well short of the 40 holiday movies the Hallmark networks put out for Christmas 2022, that represents a 50% year-over-year increase in new movies for Great American Family.

We have to wonder what impact the diversion between how the two outfits approach social issues is having. As we previously reported, Bure's A Christmas...Present was actually a faith-based film, and that sort of programming is something she aims to push at the channel in her capacity as its chief creative officer. She also stated that Great American Family will focus on "traditional marriage," which is to say Biblical marriage: another departure from Hallmark, which has chosen to feature homosexual storylines in its films.

No word yet on how that latter network did in the ratings last quarter, though it almost certainly beat its challenger comfortably in head-to-head ratings in light of its long-running presence in the arena. You can be sure, however, that the C-suite at the Hallmark networks' parent company is watching Great American Family's performance with keen interest.


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