How much is the Hallmark Channel worth? Until today, its asset value was of passing interest. But now owner Crown Media (NASDAQ:CRWN) intends to sell the channel that targets adults and women.

Buyers could be lured by its 68.5 million subscriber base and the channel's eight consecutive months as a top 10 cable channel in total-day ratings. Ratings have been especially strong for original programming at the ad-sponsored network.

But the cloud inside the silver lining might be the company's second-quarter results. Revenue jumped 50% year over year (which is fantastic) but didn't make its way to the bottom line. Crown posted a $56.3 million net loss for the quarter.

But don't turn your nose up and walk away -- yet. At the right price, selling the Hallmark Channel could provide a handsome boost to Crown Media's bottom line.

Look back to 2001, when Disney (NYSE:DIS) anted up $2.9 billion in cash and assumed $2.3 billion in debt to buy Fox Family Worldwide, which included the Fox Family Channel, 75% of Fox Kids Europe, Fox Kids Latin America, and 6,500 half-hours of children's programming.

The real prize in the package sold by News Corp. (NYSE:NWS) and SabanEntertainment was the Fox Family Channel, which reached 81 million U.S. subscribers and generated $150 million in EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization). However, the channel had seen its ratings slide from 10th to 17th place, and at 35 times EBITDA, many criticized the price as too expensive.

In 2002, General Electric's (NYSE:GE) NBC division agreed to pay $1.25 billion for Bravo -- a deal that allowed cash-starved Cablevision Systems (NYSE:CVC) to turn a money-losing operation into cold cash. Bravo reached 68 million homes, but was rated 43rd in prime time. Yikes! Still, that sale worked out to $18.38 per subscriber and a reported 27 times EBITDA.

In 2003, Viacom (NYSE:VIA) purchased Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick TimeWarner's (NYSE:TWX) 50% stake in the Comedy Central for $1.25 billion. With 82 million households, the per-subscriber cost was $30.48 -- an estimated 20 times EBITDA.

Pricing the Hallmark Channel is difficult, because the company's ramped-up spending for programming keeps EBITDA negative. Given the channel's high ratings, it can likely command more than Bravo's $18.38 per subscriber, but it's unlikely to sell for more than $30.50 per subscriber (a total of $2.1 billion). Then again, since top-10 cable assets are rarely for sale, who knows how high the price may go?

Crown Media's stock is up 20% this morning, giving the company an enterprise value of $1.7 billion. Dividing the enterprise value by the number of Hallmark Channel subscribers leads to a price of $24.81 per subscriber, right in the middle of our estimated range. Until it becomes clear that a buyer will make an offer Crown Media can't refuse, that seems a reasonable enough estimate.

Looking for the crown jewels of Wall Street? A subscription to Tom and David Gardner's Motley Fool Stock Advisor can point you in the right direction. Try it free for 30 days.

Fool contributor W.D. Crotty owns shares in Disney and News Corp and is a regular watcher of the mystery series on Hallmark. Click here to see The Motley Fool's disclosure policy.