Hallmark Channel Chief Bill Abbott Out at Crown Media

Crown Media president and CEO Bill Abbott is leaving the company, the company announced Wednesday.

Abbott, who has served as president and CEO for Crown Media Networks, which includes Hallmark Channel, for the past 11 years, leaves the company after building Hallmark Channel into one of cable’s highest-rated networks with its mix of family-friendly original series and holiday-themed original movies.

The network’s “Countdown to Christmas” holiday movie stunt perennially placed Hallmark among the top 10 most watched networks in primetime during November and December.

Related: Hallmark to Restore Spots Showing Same Sex Wedding

“After 11 years, Bill Abbott, president and CEO of Crown Media is leaving the company,” said Mike Perry, president and CEO of Hallmark Cards, Inc. in a statement. “I want to thank Bill for his many years of success and contributions to Crown Media and wish him continued success.”

The move comes almost a month after Hallmark Channel generated controversy by pulling an ad for a wedding planning company which showed two women kissing during their wedding ceremony. Hallmark initially pulledthe ad but days later restored it.

Perry said he will begin a search for Abbott’s replacement. “I have tremendous confidence in the Crown Media management team,” he said. “In a time when there is immense competition among television networks and streaming services, it is more important than ever that we find relevant new ways to grow our business and continue to produce high quality programming that resonates with our growing audience.”

Related: Hallmark's Bill Abbott Discusses 10th Anniversary of 'Countdown to Christmas' (video)

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.