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Hallmark Takes Crown Media Holdings Inc. Private

By Motley Fool Staff and Chris Hill - Mar 18, 2016 at 3:34PM

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Crown operates the pay-TV Hallmark Channel. Here's why the greeting card kingpin is buying the 10% of Crown that it didn't already own.

Last week, Hallmark finally bought the final small piece of Crown Media Holdings (NASDAQ: CRWN) that it didn't already own. In this clip from Market Foolery, Chris Hill and Bill Barker explain what the company has to gain from the deal, and the vast differences between a Hallmark movie and a Lifetime movie.

A transcript follows the video.

This podcast was recorded on March 9, 2016.

Chris Hill: Let's wrap up with Crown Media Holdings, which is up 3% on the news today that it's being taken private by Hallmark Cards. Hallmark already owns 90% of Crown, so this obviously brings the whole thing in-house. And if you're unfamiliar with Crown Media Holdings, you probably know it better by the Hallmark Channel, which is the television channel that Crown Media owns. And now, that's all under the Hallmark brand.

Bill Barker: Exciting news.

Hill: (laughs) Not much of a premium being paid by Hallmark Cards to bring the entire Hallmark Channel in-house.

Barker: The 10% it didn't already own.

Hill: Yeah.

Barker: No. And, I understand why they would do this, which is to just run this privately without having to worry about the optics for their very, very inconsequential, in terms of percentage, ownership shareholders. Easier to just buy that last 10% and do whatever they want with it and not have to answer to shareholders on a quarterly basis. Being public was not of any great use to them, but it had not been a very successful venture over the last 15 years in terms of shareholder rewards. It was more successful recently. But, it's tough times for a number of cable operators.

Hill: Although it's in about three quarters of homes.

Barker: It's in your home, probably.

Hill: It's in my home, as is the Lifetime Channel.

Barker: Two channels which we don't watch as often as they probably would like us to watch them.

Hill: That's probably true. Lifetime, owned jointly by the Disney company and by Hearst. And, presumably, they're doing better, that's just my assumption, that they are doing better, certainly, because they have more programming, they have television shows that they're creating. They're just producing more, so, my assumption is that they're doing a better job of turning a profit with that channel.

Barker: I think so. They're more of a known brand. Hallmark is more extending its brand. What is on the Hallmark Channel?

Hill: The only time I ever think of the Hallmark Channel is in December, because it seems like they produce holiday-related movies that get promotion on channels that I happen to be watching.

Barker: Romantic comedies, one assumes.

Hill: Usually, yeah.

Barker: Heart-warming.

Hill: Heart-warming, feel-good stories.

Barker: You laugh, you cry, everybody gets married at the end.

Hill: Exactly. And you feel happy at the end, unlike a number of Lifetime movies, which appear to fall under the umbrella of "women in peril."

Barker: Hallmark Channel, probably a little bit more or entirely "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back."

Hill: Probably.

Barker: Probably. Lifetime, I don't know what the mantra would be.

Hill: I think it would be like, "boy stalks girl ... "

Barker: "Girl successfully kills him."

Hill: Yeah, or, "Runs away or kills him, and then there's a happy ending."

Barker: "Then there's a trial, but she's not put in jail."

Hill: No.

Barker: I don't know, because I've never watched one of these movies. But it seems to be less of a feel-good formula from what I can tell. Weren't Kristen Wiig and ... ?

Hill: Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell did a Lifetime movie.

Barker: A quasi -- was a send-up of Lifetime movies.

Hill: I think so, yeah.

Barker: Was it put on Lifetime?

Hill: Yeah, I think it was. Yeah, if you're Lifetime, and Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell come to you and say, "We have this idea," I think you're greenlighting that.

Barker: Is that out?

Hill: You can probably find it somewhere online. What I love about Lifetime is that, it's not just ..

Barker: Well, the premise is -- I just read an article about it -- they adopt some child and it turns out to be evil or something and terrorizes them.

Hill: So, it's "couple in peril." 

Barker: (laughs) I think so.

Hill: It's an extension of "woman in peril," it's "couple in peril."

Barker: We'd have to do some research to find out whether or not I know what I'm talking about. (laughs)

Hill: (laughs) And by "we," I mean "you" have to do some research. I believe, at one point, there was a quiz that went around online, and it was a list of movie titles and half of them were actual titles of Lifetime movies, and half of them were made up, and you would try and guess which is which. For me, the classic is always "Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?" And a young Tori Spelling was, I don't know, just a young woman in peril because she was dating a mysterious new boy in town.

Barker: Did her mother allow her to sleep with danger?

Hill: I never actually watched the entire thing all the way to the end. But, come on, that's a great title. "Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?" (laughs) 

Barker: Here you are, talking about it years later.

Hill: There you go, it just sucks you in.

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