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Crown Expects 20% Jump in Upfront Sales

New York -- Crown Media Family Networks, parent of Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel, which will undergo a transformation later this year, expects a 20% increase in upfront sales for the 2014-15 TV year.

Speaking at an upfront press lunch here, Crown Media executive vice president Ed Georger for ad sales, said he anticipates that the cable market will be especially strong this year.

Crown's Hallmark Channel has successfully launched original series, Cedar Cove and When Calls The Heart, and has several more in the pipeline, to go with the original movies it airs during the Christmas holiday season.

"There's a healthy appetite for original episodic programming on the Hallmark Channel," Georger said. "Advertisers put a high value on the high- quality, original family programing available only on Hallmark Channel."

In the fourth quarter, Georger said Crown reported that ad revenues grew 17%. For all of 2013, sales rose 10%.

The company also announced plans to rebrand the Hallmark Movie Channel as Hallmark Movies & Mystery.

The new brand should help attract additional adverisers, Georger said. "There are a lot of clever ways to wrap brands in that genre," he said.