In a divided America, Hallmark Channel scores with its feel-good shows

A scene from the Hallmark Channel's hit series When Calls the Heart.
A scene from the Hallmark Channel's hit series When Calls the Heart. PHOTO: HALLMARK

NEW YORK (WP) - The Hallmark Channel was the only non-news channel in the top 15 to see substantial viewership growth last year. In November and December, when it aired Christmas movies almost non-stop, it often ran neck-and-neck with Fox News and ESPN for the title of most-watched TV network on basic cable.

Ratings are up another 9 per cent so far this year, Nielsen says.

It is feel-good TV. There is no sex or gore. Hallmark movies and series like When Calls The Heart and Chesapeake Shores have happy endings.

The main characters do the right thing. The problems get worked out.

This kind of TV has always drawn in older women but ratings are growing fast among 18- to 49-year-old women, and a growing number of men are tuning in as well.

The few culture magazines that have noticed Hallmark's popularity surge say it is all about production value. But better acting alone does not explain the big jump in viewership and advertising dollars last year.

But it is probably that more and more Americans are turning to the Hallmark Channel for relief from the daily news cycle.

Hallmark is the complete opposite of the divisiveness that so many families felt during the election and President Donald Trump's penchant for courting controversy.

Turn on the news and you see people who cannot get along, even in the same party.

Turn on Hallmark and everyone ends the show smiling.

The happy formula is working. The Hallmark Channel and its sister station, Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, are doing so well that a third channel - Hallmark Drama - will be launched on Oct 1.