GAF’s Bill Abbott Discusses Holiday Success And ‘Staying True’ To Their Brand

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GAF’s Bill Abbott Discusses Holiday Success And ‘Staying True’ To Their Brand

By Movieguide® Contributor

Hallmark has some major competition when it comes to the holiday season this year!

Great American Family, one of the fastest-growing family-friendly networks, recently announced its Christmas lineup, which includes 50 movies with 18 originals.

Their movies boast former Hallmark stars like Candace Cameron Bure, Danica McKellar, Jessica Lowndes, Jen Lilley, Lori Loughlin, Cameron Mathison, and Jill Wagner.

“A lot of our content, while not original, is original to a lot of people this year and I think the ratings are showing that,” Great American Family CEO and President Bill Abbott said. “We’re up triple digits from where we were last year and overall, we feel very good about the progress we’ve made.”

“It’s comfort food,” he continued, referring to their Christmas content. “It’s the type of content that stands the test of time because you may know what’s going to happen, but it’s how you get there. It’s the journey that makes it interesting and makes it fun.”

Abbott called making Christmas movies “a little bit of an art form” when it comes to balancing new, original content with keeping stories consistent and relatable. 

“It’s definitely a discipline staying true to who you are and true to the brand you’re building. That will be what drives our success in the long run,” he concluded. 

It looks like Abbott’s drive is paying off! Great American Family is now available in over 50 million homes and ranks 66th in popularity. The network’s streaming app has almost 100,000 subscribers just two months after its launch. 

Movieguide® previously reported on Bure’s involvement with Great American Family:

While Candace Cameron Bure is known for her work in Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, she is now taking her Christmas career to Bill Abbott’s Great American Family network, working both in front of the cameras and as an executive.

While often associated with the most wonderful time of the year, Bure hasn’t always been a Christmas icon. She got her start on FULL HOUSE and then took a ten-year hiatus from the entertainment industry to raise her family.

When she decided to return to the industry, Bure’s acting comeback began at Hallmark Channel when the network’s then-CEO Abbott gave her the chance to perform again.

“Bill gave me my first shot after taking a very long hiatus from work,” said Bure. She made her Hallmark debut in their 2008 movie MOONLIGHT AND MISTLETOE. “I will always be grateful to him for that,” she added.

Now, after racking in 30 Hallmark movie credits, Bure has decided to bring her Christmas career to Great American Family.

Abbott, who began Great American Family after leaving the Hallmark Channel in 2020, believes that Bure “understands what the audience likes and what the audience doesn’t like, and that understanding for us is so critical to our success.”

Her first venture for Great American Family is one of their upcoming Christmas movies, A CHRISTMAS…PRESENT. Bure will star in and executive produce the movie, which will premiere in November.

Bure explains, “‘A Christmas… Present’ is about slowing down enough to recognize what’s right in front of our eyes. The hustle and bustle of the Christmas season will arrive before we know it but it’s through the quiet moments that we hear God speak to us, directing our path to what’s most important.”

Abbott, however, was hesitant about this movie at first. “It’s not the typical Christmas movie that we would do that is necessarily what has been successful, even for her, in the past,” he said.

“Yet, I have a lot of confidence in her. It is life-affirming and makes you appreciate what you have and will give people great hope in really viewing what they have in a little bit of a different way through a different lens. She was 100% right. I was way off,” he added.

While they plan to create content for different holidays, Bure explained, “I think we know the core audience and what they love is exactly how Bill originally built the Hallmark Channel. That was Christmas and those traditional holidays, so that’s what the focus is going to be. You’ve got to start somewhere. You can’t do everything at once.”

“The biggest thing about Christmas movies in general is that people make fun of them — and yet people love them,” she added.

“It’s because they’re predictable,” she said. “You know that someone’s going to fall in love. You know it’s just going to be happy and warm. And people run to that, especially at the holidays.”