Weary of crises, violence and the 24×7 news cycle, people are tuning out completely, or turning to more wholesome television. That’s where networks like the Hallmark Channel come in. Based upon the numbers, people are eager to ditch trash to embrace class.
Television has been a convenient form of escape for many years, but with programming becoming increasingly dark and violent, people found that particular escape was no longer a safe haven. Between adult content being aired during ‘family time,’ the negativity and the hysteria of the unending news cycle, people are craving a return to normalcy.
They have found that normalcy in the Hallmark Channel, as well as a few others that produce and air happier, more positive programming.
In 2016, the Hallmark Channel saw a 10% increase in total viewership and surprisingly, a healthy 26% increase among viewers 18-49 — that means that millennials tuned in too! Consider that during the 2016 election week, Hallmark ranked No. 4 among primetime cable networks – even out-ranking MSNBC.
It’s not surprising that the Hallmark Channel has become a safe haven for those weary of the chaos churned out by news broadcasts and apocalyptic-themed TV shows.
“Shows like ‘The Walking Dead’ and the happy content from Hallmark are like two sides of the same coin. Both offer appealing counter-realities. Some people feel that a return to the past is possible, that we can get through this. Other people feel that apocalyptic times will solve all their problems by just erasing everything.” – Wheeler Winston Dixon, Ryan Professor of Film Studies and Coordinator of Film Studies
Why the sudden change?
The growing popularity of channels like Hallmark is following a societal pop culture pattern — the media begins to cross the line in subtle ways, putting out little snippets of questionable programming, hoping to slowly condition us to accept the changes. Once they slip more violence and vulgarity by us, the try a bit more, hoping we won’t notice. Before we fully realize it, we’re being subjected to violence, darkness and negativity on a daily basis. After a while, people begin to reject this, forcing the media to scale it back. Of course, The Hallmark channel hasn’t done that, as their programming has consistently remained cleaner and focused on the happy ending.
The Younger Generation Sees it Too
Born into the cycle of violence being beamed into their homes, younger generations are increasingly fed up, which is why they too are abandoning mainstream ‘pop culture’ for TV and movies that portray a happier life in which things look brighter and are centered around a sense of hope.
“Historically, when there have been some difficult times, many viewers tend to migrate toward content that represents a more gentle time. If you look at what the television networks have for new programs, they’re all very much either crime or war-centric. And when they introduce something like ‘This is Us’ or ‘Modern Family,’ people gravitate toward that. Just like the family dramas of the 1950s, the Hallmark Channel and other feel-good shows like ‘This is Us’ are bringing back the idea of TV content for all, where the whole family can watch and share in the experience. Hallmark is zigging when everyone else is zagging.” – Cathy Perron, Director, Master’s in Media Ventures Program, Boston University
A Warning to “Hollywood”
The entertainment and news media has been taking a beating lately, and justifiably so. People are worn down by life as it is, so who needs to be assaulted with dark and dire news, TV and movies?
The Hallmark Channel is a beacon of light in an otherwise dark landscape. Fortunately, the rest of the entertainment industry seems to be coming back to reality and are producing more high quality, wholesome family entertainment — why they ever stopped doing so, was their mistake.
Of course, we can’t hide in an insular world and TV is just a form of escapism. But escapism is okay sometimes — there comes a point in which we all need to let ourselves be caught up in a bit of a fantasy world. Channels like Hallmark are generally a safe haven to escape to, and I for one am delighted that they exist.
“You become what you digest into your spirit. Whatever you think about, focus on, read about, talk about, you’re going to attract more of into your life. Make sure they’re all positive.”
― Germany Kent