UPDATE 2:40 pm, PT, Oct. 11, 2010. Fixed typo on "joined"
After receiving anemic ratings with Hallmark Channel’s reinvention using programming from lifestyle maven Martha Stewart, the company has forced out a key programming executive who joined just four months ago to work with Stewart, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Company Town blog.
"We mutually decided to go in different ways," said Hallmark Channels Chief Executive Bill Abbott of Laura Sillars, who left her post as senior vice president for lifestyle programming. "It was not a good fit for either of us."
Sillars wasn’t part of the executive team that in January decided to work Stewart into the cable network and overhaul its programming, the story notes. But when Sillars joined Hallmark in June she had been given the job of developing original lifestyle shows so that Hallmark could move away from repeats of "Little House on the Prairie." She was also the company’s liaison with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Stewart’s media company.
Abbott added, the story says, ""It takes time to find the right chemistry and the right mix when you are dealing with high-profile talent."
According to the story, Abbott said the following about Stewart’s flagship show, now on Hallmark: " ‘We are off to a slow start but the ratings have started to improve,’ Abbott said. Wednesday’s telecast marked the show’s highest ratings on the channel to date, with 250,000 people tuning in."
Furthermore, according to the article, "The problem, Abbott said, is that viewers are used to watching original shows in the daytime on stations affiliated with the major networks. Hallmark’s shift to lifestyle programming was a radical move that alienated many of its longtime viewers. Meanwhile, many of Stewart’s fans have not made the switch to cable. Until this season, Stewart’s show ran in syndication and was on NBC-owned TV stations."
Hallmark will try to increase its ratings this week by running Stewart’s show at 8 p.m., the article says. Its daytime telecasts have been averaging fewer than 200,000 viewers, less than half of the network’s audience for reruns of "The Golden Girls" a year earlier, it notes.