It's the most wonderful time of the year for Christmas movie fans, as "Christmas in July" brings festive themes and snowy scenes to the screen all summer long. But this July, Hallmark Channel isn't the only network offering holiday TV movies: GAC Family recently launched its own "Great American Christmas in July" programming block, a move that escalates the network's efforts to cut into Hallmark's viewership and roster of stars.
GAC Family kicked off its "Great American Christmas in July" event over the holiday weekend, airing a variety of "encore presentations" of holiday films and first-look previews of upcoming movies. The marathon was hosted by former Hallmark star, Jen Lilley, who left Hallmark Channel to star in GAC films like Royally Wrapped for Christmas.
Lilley is among a handful of Hallmark actors who have departed for the recently rebranded GAC Family. Stars like Candace Cameron Bure, Danica McKellar, Trevor Donovan, and Jessica Lowndes have all recently signed deals with GAC, and though the deals are not exclusive, its hard to imagine Hallmark and GAC Family sharing actors.
On the other side of the trenches, Hallmark has made moves to secure some of its biggest names. In February, the network signed an exclusive, multi-picture deal with Lacey Chabert to headline and executive produce films and other content over the next two years. In addition, Hallmark has signed exclusive deals with many actors, including Tamera Mowry, Holly Robinson Peete, Jonathan Bennett, Taylor Cole, and Aimee Teegarden.
Although the holiday wars seem to be ramping up, the real winners in the battle for festive supremacy are the viewers, who get even more holiday-focused programming all year long.
GAC Family's "Great American Christmas in July" event continues all month. Its holiday-time content spree begins October 28.
Hallmark Channel's "Christmas in July" event features four new movies airing each Saturday in July, with My Grown-Up Christmas List kicking things off July 9 at 8:00 PM ET.
Kirstie Renae is a writer, blogger, and Austin-based actress with a penchant for binge-watching TV with her dogs. Follow her on Twitter @KirstieRenae.