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Martha Stewart TV show to end this summer

Sally Herships Jan 4, 2012

Tess Vigeland: Remember when Martha Stewart was everywhere? In retail stores, on TV — OK, yes, in jail.

Well the good things appear to be ebbing. Last May, Martha Stewart Living indicated it might need to find a buyer after years of declining sales. In December, the company struck a deal to gain a retail foothold in JC Penney stores. But today, the Hallmark Channel said “The Martha Stewart Show” would end this summer. Turns out, many viewers preferred reruns of “Little House on the Prairie.”

Sally Herships has more.

Sally Herships:  You know what people like? Comfort food and comfort TV. Thom Umstead is programming editor at Multichannel News.

Thomas Umstead: “The Golden Girls,” “Little House on the Prairie,” “I Love Lucy.”

Reruns like those are like the mashed potatoes and gravy of television. And they are what, Umstead says, the Hallmark Channel is known for. So the all-American crafty “Martha Stewart Show” was expected to do well there. But Hallmark says it only will air the show through the summer. Which was a big surprise.

Umstead: It’s not like they’re trying to fit Martha Stewart into MTV’s block.

Martha Stewart’s company says ratings for the show are up since last year, and it’s won two Emmys. But Umstead says enough viewers are just not tuning in.

Bob Thompson teaches TV and popular culture at Syracuse.

Robert Thompson: The problem with the Martha Stewart show and the Martha Stewart brand is that it’s gone out of style.

Tim Calkins teaches marketing at Kellogg School of Management. He says in an effort to keep growing the brand has stretched itself too thin and lost its specialness.

Tim Calkins: They’ve done a heck of a lot of licensing deals.

You can buy Martha Stewart at Kmart or Sears.

Calkins: Then there’s the Martha Stewart at PetSmart. And there’s the Martha Stewart collection at Home Depot and at Macy’s and now at JC Penney.

Martha Stewart says the show that’s ending is just one of a group of shows it airs on the Hallmark Channel. And what Thom Umstead says about Martha’s brand sounds like something Pa Ingles would say on “Little House”: You may be suffering now, but you’re still strong at the core.

In New York, I’m Sally Herships for Marketplace.

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