Former Hallmark Channel head Bill Abbott’s new company GAC Media has reached a distribution deal with Frndly TV, giving cable channels GAC Family and GAC Living more than 400,000 additional streaming subscribers looking for wholesome programming just in time for the start of the all-important holiday season.
Frndly TV is a virtual multichannel video programming distributor (vMVPD) that focuses on providing wholesome programming at a low price.
Adding GAC Family and GAC Living gives Frndly TV basic subscribers 23 channels, nine more than in February. The price for basic service remains at $5.99 a month.
“After GAC Media acquired Great American Country and Ride TV, we immediately began discussions about adding these channels to our lineup,” said Michael McKenna, chief programming officer of Frndly TV. “They shared with us their vision of the two channels moving forward. With that vision in mind, we felt the newly branded GAC Family and GAC Living would be a nice fit to our offering. We are very pleased to have these two GAC Media channels become part of the Frndly TV family.”
Frndly subscribers on social media began asking for GAC Family and GAC Living shortly after their family friendly rebrands were announced.
Abbott, backed by Hicks Equity Partners, has been following the successful Hallmark Channel model since acquiring the cable channels in June. This new carriage agreement comes at a key time for GAC. It means that more people will be able to see the expansive slate of holiday movies the companies will present under its Great American Christmas banner. With its focus on yuletide programming, GAC, like Hallmark, will probably see its best ratings and strongest advertising revenues in the fourth quarter.
GAC plans to premiere holiday films every Saturday night beginning Oct. 30 through Christmas. The slate will be heralded in a special premiering this Saturday and running again Oct. 24 hosted by Cameron Mathison and Debbie Matenopoulos, who, not coincidentally, hosted Hallmark Channel’s daytime show Home & Family when Abbott ran the network.
The new network also made a splash announcing that it will have season two of When Hope Calls. Season one of the series appeared on Hallmark Channel. GAC also announced that Hallmark Channel favorite Lori Loughlin — now notorious because of the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal — will be a guest star in When Hope Calls, playing her character from Hallmark’s When Calls the Heart.
“GAC Family and GAC Living are the perfect fit for Frndly TV, who shares our passion for engaging and entertaining audiences nationwide with positive, family friendly programing,” said Erin McIlvain, chief officer, distribution and content strategy for GAC Media. “We’re thrilled to be launching on the popular service and look forward to providing GAC’s all-new movies, specials and unscripted programming to the Frndly audience.”
GAC Family and GAC Living launched on Sept. 27 as new brands with original programming slates. Under the tagline “Stories Well Told,” GAC Family features family-friendly, holiday-themed movies and series that celebrate American culture, lifestyle and heritage. GAC Living, tagged as “Life Well Lived,” is designed to complement GAC Family as an unscripted companion network celebrating Great American family friendly traditions.
Upcoming programming on GAC Family already announced includes A Kindhearted Christmas starring Cameron Mathison and Jennie Garth, and Royally Wrapped for Christmas, starring Jen Lilley and Brendan Fehr.
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Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.
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