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Sony’s faith-based streaming service merges with Hallmark rival Great American Media

Actress Maria Conchita Alonso attends the Los Angeles premiere of “God’s Not Dead: We The People” at Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City on September 21, 2021 in Universal City, California.

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Sony Pictures Entertainment and its streaming service Pure Flix are making room on the cable TV dial. 

The company’s streaming service, known for faith-based content, is merging with Great American Media, a recent upstart cable rival to the Hallmark Channel. 

The combination will give Pure Flix’s content a place in front of traditional TV viewers. It will also beef up the slate for Great American’s TV networks Great American Family and Great American Living. 

As part of the deal, which has yet to close, content from both Pure Flix and Great American Media will cross each other’s platforms. 

Sony acquired Pure Flix in December 2020 for an undisclosed sum. The service, which features content such as the “God’s Not Dead” film franchise and “The Chosen” series, costs $7.99 a month and has approximately 1 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada. 

The deal will also give Great American’s fledgling TV networks a streaming home. 

Great American Media and its two cable TV networks were launched in 2021 by Bill Abbott, former CEO of Crown Media, the parent of the Hallmark Channel. During his tenure at Hallmark, he helped turn the network into a Christmas movie behemoth, which continues to beckon some of the highest cable TV ratings during the holiday season. 

Lori Loughlin is seen on December 31, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.

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Abbott left Hallmark in 2020 after backlash involving commercials featuring a same-sex wedding ceremony. The network pulled the ads after facing pressure from a conservative group, then reversed its course shortly after a gay rights advocacy group attempted to launch an advertising boycott. 

Soon after, Abbott launched Great American Media and signed deals with some of the top stars known for their Hallmark Channel movies and series.

Familiar faces at Great American Media

  • Danica McKellar, who starred as Winnie Cooper in the original “Wonder Years”
  • Candace Cameron Bure, the longtime queen of Hallmark holiday films who recently found herself mired in controversy over comments regarding same-sex couples
  • Lori Loughlin, the former “Full House” cast member, who had been fired from Hallmark for her role in the 2019 college admissions scandal

Abbott will remain as CEO of the merged companies, and report to the board of directors. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Great American Media will hold the majority interest in the merged company. 

Great American Media took the step of launching its content on traditional cable networks rather than a streaming service during a time when more and more customers are fleeing cable bundles in favor of streaming. Cable subscriber losses continued to accelerate in the most recent quarter. 

While the company’s networks are available in 50 million pay TV homes, and touts that it is the fastest-growing TV network based on Nielsen ratings, it has yet to start its own streaming service. 

Instead, the networks have been featured in internet TV bundles, such as Frndly TV and Fubo. Great American Media also has a free, ad-supported channel for its content. 

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