I must admit to being a fan of "Matlock," "M*A*S*H," "Murder She Wrote," and a number of other television programs of yore that have found their way into the stable of the Hallmark Channel. Why, just a couple of days ago I contentedly watched Angela Lansbury (a.k.a Jessica Fletcher) solve the mystery du jour on Hallmark. Sadly, the mystery of Hallmark's decline is also an open-and-shut case.
As its name implies, the Hallmark Channel and its sister Hallmark Movie Channel are owned by an affiliate of Hallmark Cards, Crown Media Holdings
In the most recent quarter, for example, net revenues were $47.3 million, down from $50.7 million a year ago. And with a classification called "cost of services" increasing to $90.4 million, from $77.9 million last year, the company's net loss widened to $84.3 million, from $65.8 million. The largest culprit in raising the cost of services was programming expenses, which jumped 20% to $35.1 million.
There's a difference between Crown and the cable multi-systems operators (MSOs), such as Comcast
And there's yet another mystery afoot at Crown, one that may require the services of Jessica Fletcher to solve: In recent months the company's CEO, COO, and CFO all have resigned. And so, in the face of an obvious paucity of quality television programming, I'd advise occasional viewing attention to the Hallmark Channel; investments should probably be funneled into other cable operators.
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Fool contributor David Lee Smith does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He welcomes your comments.