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Hallmark enters movie streaming biz

Greeting-card giant offering family-friendly films

Hallmark has a gift for Netflix and other subscription VOD services just in time for the holidays: competition.

The greeting-card giant has quietly unveiled Hallmark Instant Streaming, which features a collection of family-friendly movies and documentaries that include the company’s own massive library of Hallmark Hall of Fame titles.

Hallmark will be available to access for $4.99 per month or for an annual membership fee of $35.99.

That’s a markedly lower price than existing SVOD services like Netflix, which appears to have a far bigger catalog of titles.

Hallmark has already begun promoting the service throughout Hallmark.com. The service is offering free access for one week as of Friday.

Hallmark Instant Streaming will also be availabe as an app on streaming devices via Roku, Boxee and iPad.

Hundreds of movies have been produced by Hallmark Hall of Fame going back to 1951, collecting 79 Emmy Awards over the years. In addition to airing on broadcast television, Hallmark’s movies have been the backbone of the programming lineup for the cable network Hallmark Channel.

Other content partners listed as part of Hallmark Instant Streaming include Bud Greenspan Films, Dale Carnegie Training, Odyssey Networks, Thomas Nelson Publishers, and Successories. No major studio partners are listed.

Also part of Hallmark Instant Streaming is SpiritClips, a subscription service for family-friendly short films, movies and documentaries that Hallmark acquired in March. SpiritClips founder Rob Fried, a prolific film producer whose credits include “Rudy” and “Hoosiers,” is listed as the executive in charge of the streaming service.

While Hallmark brings significant brand clout into digital distribution, it won’t have the family-friendly niche to itself. In addition to existing players like Netflix that are already well-represented in that genre, Toys R Us announced its own entry targeting the same audience last month, with a library of 4,000 movies.

In other SVOD news, details have begun leaking about Redbox Instant, a streaming service expected later this year from the kiosk giant and Verizon. The companies are said to be testing a monthly subscription price of $6, just below what Netflix charges.

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