Hallmark, Co-Op Renew

New York— Hallmark Channel continued to ride the distribution fast track as it renewed its contract with the National Cable Television Cooperative last week.

Under the multiyear pact, terms of which were not disclosed, Hallmark will continue to be available to the NCTC’s 1,100 member companies that collectively own 5,500 individual cable systems, serving 12 million subscribers.

“Following our successful recent renewals with EchoStar [Communications] and Mediacom [Communications] we are delighted to announce the renewal of this affiliation agreement with the NCTC because its member companies have been among our 'very best’ partners,” said Henry Schleiff, CEO of Crown Media Holdings, which owns and operates Hallmark Channel.

“Hallmark Channel is a top-10 rated network with original movies and classic series,” NCTC CEO Jeff Abbas said in a statement. “It has been one of the most launched cable networks by our members the past few years.”

Buoyed by its renewal in March with EchoStar that repositioned it on Dish Network’s “America’s Top 200” package, plus rollouts with other affiliates, network officials, citing Nielsen data, say Hallmark has added 7.45 million homes thus far in 2007, the most of any network, lifting its customer count to over 82 million.

The new contract with EchoStar also placed Hallmark Movie Channel on Dish’s “America’s Top 250” package, and pushed the spinoff service’s total to more than 5 million subscribers.