Great American Family

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Great American Family
CountryUnited States
Broadcast areaNationwide
HeadquartersFort Worth, Texas
Programming
Language(s)English
Picture format
Ownership
OwnerGreat American Media
Sister channelsGreat American Faith & Living
History
LaunchedDecember 31, 1995; 28 years ago (1995-12-31)
Former namesGreat American Country (1995–2021)
GAC (1995–2013; secondary branding throughout run of network)
GAC Family (2021–2022)
Links
Websitewww.gacfamily.com
Availability
Streaming media
Service(s)DirecTV Stream, Frndly TV, FuboTV, Hulu with Live TV, Philo, Sling TV, Vidgo TV

Great American Family is an American cable television network. Owned by Great American Media, it broadcasts conservative family-oriented general entertainment programming, including television series and made-for-TV movies.

It was originally established in 1995 by Jones Radio Network as Great American Country (GAC), a country music channel. GAC was later acquired by Scripps Networks and, in turn, Discovery Inc. Under Scripps, GAC's format was widened to include lifestyle programming pertaining to the American Heartland and the South, but the network did continue carrying some country music-related programming for a period.

In June 2021, GAC was acquired by GAC Media—a new ownership group that includes former Crown Media CEO Bill Abbott and Hicks Equity Partners. On September 27, 2021, the network was relaunched as GAC Family (later Great American Family), with a format and original programming strategy mirroring Abbott's former employer Hallmark Channel (including an emphasis on original television films tied to holidays), and leveraging talent previously associated with that network. The previous country lifestyle format was moved to Ride TV—a second channel acquired by GAC Media–which was concurrently relaunched as the sister network GAC Living (later Great American Living). In 2022, Abbott described the network as featuring a mix of secular and "soft" faith-based programming.

As of February 2015, GAC was available to approximately 59 million television households (51% of pay television customers) in the United States.[1]

History[edit]

As Great American Country[edit]

First Great American Country logo, used from launch to 2004
Great American Country logo (2014–2021)

The channel was launched on December 31, 1995, with the first music video to be broadcast on the channel, Garth Brooks' "The Thunder Rolls".[2] The channel was originally owned by the Centennial, Colorado-based Jones Radio Network.

On October 12, 2004, Scripps Networks acquired Great American Country from Jones Radio Network.

In late 2005, television industry trade publication Broadcasting & Cable named GAC as one of TV's "Breakout Networks", saying of the channel: "The emerging GAC is a younger, hipper version [of CMT] that respects Nashville's country roads but widens the boulevards."[3]

In December 2007, the network announced a partnership with ABC Radio Networks (now Cumulus Media Networks) to produce GAC Nights: Live from Nashville, a syndicated country music radio show broadcast from GAC's Music Row studios and hosted by GAC personalities Suzanne Alexander, Storme Warren, and Nan Kelley.[4]

In July 2008, Scripps Networks was spun off from the E. W. Scripps Company as Scripps Networks Interactive.[5]

On October 1, 2013, the network unveiled a new logo inspired by the U.S. flag, dropping the "GAC" acronym in favor of using the "Great American Country" name in full. The network stated that it wanted to emphasize its expansion from a country music-oriented channel to one with a larger emphasis on "country" as referring to a "sense of place" and lifestyles (citing programming such as Celebrity Motor Homes and Farm Kings as examples).[6] With the channel's rebranding, the daily music video show Daily Countdown was renamed Great American Playlist. Top 20 Country Countdown continued to air (it was cancelled in December 2018), and the network still offered country music specials including Backstory, Introducing and Origins.[7]

In March 2018, Discovery Inc. acquired Scripps Networks Interactive.[8]

As GAC Family/Great American Family[edit]

GAC Family logo, used from September 2021 to August 2022.

On June 7, 2021, GAC Media, a Fort Worth-based investment group led by private equity investor Tom Hicks and former Crown Media Holdings CEO Bill Abbott announced that it would acquire Great American Country from Discovery Inc.; the company had recently announced its intent to merge with WarnerMedia. GAC Media would also acquire the equestrian network Ride TV.[9] Abbott had abruptly stepped down from Crown Media in January 2020, shortly after Hallmark Channel was criticized for pulling commercials from the wedding registry Zola that included a lesbian couple.[10]

In August 2021, GAC Media announced that it would relaunch Great American Country as GAC Family on September 27, with the GAC initials re-backronymed to stand for "Great American Channels";[11] The channel was repositioned as a family-oriented general entertainment service with similarities to Hallmark Channel, which Abbot had previously overseen as Crown Media CEO.[12] The previous country lifestyle format was assumed by Ride TV, which concurrently rebranded as the sister channel GAC Living.[12]

GAC Family would mirror many of the programming strategies that Abbott developed while overseeing Hallmark Channel, including original made-for-TV movies and holiday programming.[13] In the months following its launch, GAC Media signed contracts with talent associated with Hallmark Channel productions,[14] including Trevor Donovan, Jen Lilley,[15] Jessica Lowndes, Jesse Metcalfe,[14] and Danica McKellar,[16] to appear in GAC Family original movies. Former Home & Family hosts Debbie Matenopoulos and Cameron Mathison hosted a preview special for GAC Family's inaugural "Great American Christmas" film lineup.[17]

On April 19, 2022, it was announced that GAC Media had hired Candace Cameron Bure—who had a long-standing relationship with Hallmark Channel dating back to 2008—as its chief content officer,[18] and that she would develop, produce and star in original romantic comedies and holiday content for its networks.[19][13]

During GAC Media's first upfronts presentation in April 2022, Abbott told Broadcasting & Cable that the quick transition to GAC Family did not give them enough time to promote the channel to advertisers—many of whom had already made their advertising commitments for the fourth quarter—leaving it unable to fully capitalize from the Christmas holiday season in 2021. However, Abbott felt that the market would be "pretty strong" in 2022, and believed that the network was "certainly selling family-friendly content and quality original movies with talent that people love and resonate with viewers".[13] The network slated 18 new original movie premieres for Great American Christmas in 2022.[20] He also revealed plans for new digital platforms, including a free ad-supported streaming service known as "Great American Adventure", and a "fan portal" that would allow users to interact with GAC talent.[13]

In July 2022, GAC Media announced a corporate rebranding that would replace the "GAC" prefix with "Great American", with GAC Family being rebranded as Great American Family on August 20, 2022, and GAC Media changing its trade name to Great American Media.[21] In November 2023, it was announced that former Hallmark star Cameron Mathison had signed a multi-picture deal with the channel over the next several years.[22]

Programming[edit]

Great American Family is positioned as a family-oriented channel with original series and movies reflecting "American culture, lifestyle and heritage", and emphasizing "relationships and the emotional connections related to holidays, seasons and occasions".[12] Abbott stated that the network planned to feature "soft faith" and secular programming, describing the market for faith-based programming as being "grossly underserved".[18][23]

The network acquired season 2 of When Hope Calls, a spin-off of Hallmark Channel's When Calls the Heart that originally aired on the network's streaming service Hallmark Movies Now.[24] In February 2022, it acquired reruns of the Full House sequel series Fuller House, which was originally produced for Netflix.[25]

Under its previous ownership, original programming included series such as Kimberly's Simply Southern—a cooking show featuring Kimberly Schlapman of the country group Little Big Town, Farm Kings—a reality show chronicling the King family of Freedom Farms, and Celebrity Motorhomes.[26] From 2011 through 2013, GAC broadcast the National Finals Rodeo.[27][28]

Special programming[edit]

Following the cancellation of Hallmark Channel's annual Kitten Bowl special (a feline-centric parallel to Animal Planet's annual Puppy Bowl special, which airs on the day of the Super Bowl), the network announced that it would present a similar event known as the Great American Rescue Bowl in 2023, with host Beth Stern moving over to the new program.[29]

In July 2023, it was announced that that Great American Family would broadcast the Tournament of Roses Parade beginning in 2024 under a multi-year deal, replacing Hallmark Channel as its "official" cable broadcaster (notwithstanding the event also being carried on cable by Cowboy Channel).[30]

Content standards[edit]

In a November 2022 interview with The Wall Street Journal, chief creative officer Candace Cameron Bure stated her desire to produce movies with stronger faith-based themes for Great American Family, explaining that GAC "wanted to promote faith programming and good family entertainment". She stated, "I think that Great American Family will keep traditional marriage at the core." Of Bure's implication that Great American Media productions would never depict same-sex couples, Abbott responded, "It's certainly the year 2022, so we're aware of the trends. There's no whiteboard that says, 'Yes, this' or 'No, we'll never go here.'"[31]

Bure's remarks faced criticism from members and supporters of the LGBT community, as they were believed to be an allusion to the increasing use of progressive themes—such as recognition of LGBT relationships—in Hallmark Channel productions.[18][32][23] In response to the criticism, Bure stated that people of various "identities" worked on Great American Media programming, and that "all of you who know me, know beyond question that I have great love and affection for all people."[33][34][35] In December 2022, actor Neal Bledsoe announced via social media that he would end his relationship with GAC Media, stating that "the thought that my work could be used to deliberately discriminate against anyone horrifies and infuriates me", and that "I could never forgive myself for continuing my relationship with a network that actively chooses to exclude the LGBTQIA+ community".[36] In October 2023, CEO Bill Abbott said that Bure was not speaking on behalf of the network when it came to the remarks she made back in November 2022.[37][38]

Carriage[edit]

On November 5, 2010, AT&T U-verse dropped all Scripps Networks, including GAC, due to a carriage dispute over an increase in retransmission fees.[39] Two days later the dispute was resolved.[40][41]

In October 2021, GAC Media reached an agreement with over-the-top service Frndly TV.[42]

In November 2021, Philo and GAC Media reached a deal to add GAC Living and GAC Family to the service beginning in early December 2021.[43]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Seidman, Robert (February 22, 2015). "List of how many homes each cable network is in as of February 2015". TV by the Numbers. Zap2it. Archived from the original on February 23, 2015. Retrieved March 14, 2015.
  2. ^ The Official Garth Brooks Website Archived January 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Hot & Happening: Breakout Networks. Broadcasting & Cable. October 31, 2005.
  4. ^ "Great American Country Television Network and ABC Radio Networks partner on 'GAC Nights: Live From Nashville'". Nashville Business Journal. December 12, 2007. Retrieved August 2, 2022.
  5. ^ Lail, Jack D. (July 26, 2017). "Scripps family considers offers for Knoxville-based Scripps Networks Interactive". Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved August 3, 2017.
  6. ^ "Great American Country Broadens Expanse". MediaPost. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  7. ^ Watts, Cindy (October 2, 2013). "GAC announces rebranding, programming changes". The Tennessean.
  8. ^ "Discovery completes $12-billion takeover of Scripps Networks' Food, HGTV and Travel channels". Los Angeles Times. March 6, 2018. Retrieved November 17, 2022.
  9. ^ Goldsmith, Jill (June 7, 2021). "Discovery Sells Great American Country To Investor Group With Former Crown Media Chief Bill Abbott As CEO". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  10. ^ Mallenbaum, Carly. "Hallmark Channel exec steps down without explanation, one month after same-sex ad flap". USA Today. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  11. ^ Media, G. A. C. "GAC Family Announces Original Series 'When Hope Calls' Season Two Set to Premiere December 18". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved October 25, 2021.
  12. ^ a b c Lafayette, Jon (August 26, 2021). "Former Hallmark Head Bill Abbott Renames Cable Networks To Create Family Friendly GAC Brands". Broadcasting Cable. Retrieved October 16, 2021.
  13. ^ a b c d Lafayette, Jon (April 25, 2022). "Bill Abbott's GAC Media Unwraps Holiday Plans in Upfront Pitch". Broadcasting Cable. Retrieved August 1, 2022.
  14. ^ a b Petski, Denise (December 8, 2021). "Jessica Lowndes & Jesse Metcalfe To Headline 'Harmony From The Heart' Movie For GAC Family". Deadline. Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  15. ^ Petski, Denise (January 10, 2022). "Jen Lilley Inks Multi-Picture Overall Deal With GAC Media, Will Star In Four Movies". Deadline. Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  16. ^ Petski, Denise (October 26, 2021). "Danica McKellar Inks Multi-Picture Deal With GAC Media, Will Headline Holiday Movies Exclusively For Rebranded Network". Deadline. Retrieved November 7, 2021.
  17. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (September 28, 2021). "Lori Loughlin To Reprise 'When Calls the Heart' Character In Season 2 Of 'When Hope Calls' On GAC Family In Acting Return". Deadline. Retrieved October 16, 2021.
  18. ^ a b c Gamerman, Ellen (November 14, 2022). "Candace Cameron Bure Wants to Put Christianity Back in Christmas Movies". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 15, 2022.
  19. ^ Schwartz, Ryan (April 19, 2022). "Hallmark Vet Candace Cameron Bure Makes Move to GAC Family, to Develop 'Family and Faith-Filled Programming'". TVLine. Retrieved April 22, 2022.
  20. ^ Rice, Lynette (March 15, 2023). "Great American Family Increasing 2023 Christmas Movie Slate; Trevor Donovan And Merritt Patterson To Reunite In 'Christmas By Chance'". Deadline. Retrieved November 10, 2023.
  21. ^ Lafayette, Jon (July 19, 2022). "Bill Abbott Renames GAC Family as Great American Family". Broadcasting Cable. Retrieved August 1, 2022.
  22. ^ Rice, Lynette (November 20, 2023). "Cameron Mathison Signs Multi-Picture Deal With Great American Family". Deadline Hollywood. United States: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved February 20, 2024.
  23. ^ a b Tinoco, Armando (November 15, 2022). "Candace Cameron Bure Talks Hallmark Exit & Reveals Great American Family "Will Keep Traditional Marriage At Core" And Not Feature Gay Couples". Deadline. Retrieved November 15, 2022.
  24. ^ Otterson, Joe (September 28, 2021). "Lori Loughlin Sets Acting Return in "When Hope Calls" on GAC Family". Variety. Retrieved September 28, 2021.
  25. ^ Schwartz, Ryan (February 16, 2022). "Fuller House Joins GAC Family Lineup — Will Netflix Episodes Get Cut for Time?". TVLine. Retrieved August 2, 2022.
  26. ^ "Great American Country Unveils New Brand Identity". The Wall Street Journal. September 30, 2013., The Wall Street Journal, September 30, 2013
  27. ^ "GAC channel a perfect fit for National Finals Rodeo". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  28. ^ "After rift, Vegas rekindles 'lovefest' with NFR". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  29. ^ Longeretta, Emily. "Kitten Bowl Officially Moves to GAC Media, Gets Renamed After Hallmark Cancellation (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved March 1, 2022.
  30. ^ Rice, Lynette (July 20, 2023). "Great American Family Signs Multi-Year Pact To Air Tournament Of Roses Parade". Deadline. Retrieved August 14, 2023.
  31. ^ Tinoco, Armando (November 15, 2022). "Candace Cameron Bure Talks Hallmark Exit & Reveals Great American Family "Will Keep Traditional Marriage At Core" And Not Feature Gay Couples". Deadline. Retrieved November 15, 2022.
  32. ^ Wratten, Marcus (November 17, 2022). "Candace Cameron Bure shares utterly bizarre defence of 'homophobic' comments". PinkNews. Retrieved November 22, 2022.
  33. ^ France, Lisa Respers (November 16, 2022). "Candace Cameron Bure criticized by JoJo Siwa and others over 'traditional marriage' comment". CNN. Retrieved November 17, 2022.
  34. ^ Wratten, Marcus (November 17, 2022). "Candace Cameron Bure shares utterly bizarre defence of 'homophobic' comments". PinkNews. Retrieved November 22, 2022.
  35. ^ Longeretta, Emily (November 16, 2022). "Candace Cameron Bure Addresses Stance on Gay Christmas Movies, Blames 'Toxic Climate' for Controversy: 'I'm Called to Love All People, and I Do'". Variety. Retrieved November 28, 2022.
  36. ^ Nolfi, Joey (December 6, 2022). "Neal Bledsoe leaves Candace Cameron Bure's Great American Family over 'hurtful, wrong' LGBT exclusion". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 9, 2022.
  37. ^ Longeretta, Emily (October 25, 2023). "Great American Family's TV Rise: CEO Bill Abbott on Candace Cameron Bure Backlash and Why His Network Is 'For All People'". Variety. Retrieved November 20, 2022.
  38. ^ Ausiello, Michael (October 25, 2023). "Great American Family Boss Dismisses Candace Cameron Bure's LGBTQ Christmas Movie Stance: 'She's Not Speaking on Behalf' of Network". TV Line. Retrieved November 20, 2023.
  39. ^ AT&T's U-verse Drops Food Network, HGTV and Other Scripps Networks, Chicago Tribune, November 5, 2010
  40. ^ Food Network, HGTV, Back on U-verse, Chicago Tribune, November 7, 2010
  41. ^ AT&T U-verse, Scripps Reconnect on Carriage Contract. MultiChannel News. November 7, 2010.
  42. ^ Barnes, Jess. "Frndly TV Will Add GAC Channels on October 19 | Cord Cutters News". Retrieved October 16, 2021.
  43. ^ "Philo is Adding GAC Living Network". Cord Cutters News. November 15, 2021. Retrieved November 23, 2021.

External links[edit]