Hallmark Channel’s loss is GAC Family’s gain.
Just days after Hallmark announced that it would no longer air the annual Kitten Bowl, rival network GAC Family has confirmed that it will revive (and expand upon) the popular franchise in 2023, when it returns as the newly christened Great American Rescue Bowl.
Airing Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023, the pet-friendly special will “showcase kittens, puppies, cats and dogs, available for adoption at shelters all over the count.” So, it’s not really a Kitten Bowl anymore, but it’s something.
“The plight of animal homelessness continues to be pervasive throughout the country, so being able to televise a proven difference maker in helping pets find their forever homes was an easy decision,” GAC Media CEO Bill Abbott said in a statement to our sister site Variety. “We’re incredibly proud to welcome Great American Rescue Bowl to GAC Family and are excited about this massive, fan-favorite event being an annual anchor to the network’s pet-centric programming.”
Abbott, of course, was previously president and CEO of Hallmark parent company Crown Media. He left his longtime Crown Media perch in January 2020 following Hallmark’s decision to stop airing a commercial featuring a same-sex wedding — a decision the network quickly reversed amid a sea of controversy.
The Kitten Bowl isn’t the first Hallmark production to make the leap to Abbott’s rival network. In December, When Calls the Heart spinoff When Hope Calls relocated from streaming service Hallmark Movies Now to GAC Family, where it returned with a two-hour Christmas special featuring ousted WCTH cast member Lori Loughlin.
In addition to Loughlin, former Home & Family hosts Cameron Mathison and Debbie Matenopoulos recently migrated to GAC, where they lorded over Welcome to the Great American Christmas, a Christmas special previewing the network’s inaugural slate of holiday films — a slate of originals headlined entirely by Hallmark grads. The network also signed an exclusive pact with Hallmark Christmas movie queen Danica McKellar to write, produce and star in new made-for-TV films exclusively for the fledgling network, beginning with January’s The Winter Palace.
Though the Kitten Bowl isn’t airing in 2022, animal lovers can tune in for Animal Planet’s annual Puppy Bowl (beginning Sunday at 2/1c) ahead of Super Bowl LVI featuring the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals (NBC, 6/5c).
Will you follow the (not really a) Kitten Bowl over to GAC Family in 2023? Irked that the paw-some event is (partially) going to the dogs? Hit the comments with your reactions.