Kitten Bowl Rescued By GAC Family, Will Return in 2023

GAC Family has stepped in to save the Kitten Bowl. After Hallmark Channel canceled the annual Super Bowl Sunday special for 2022, the upstart network will be bringing back the cute and cuddly event for 2023 under a different name. 

The Kitten Bowl to return in 2023, will be called the Great American Rescue Bowl 

Hallmark Channel revealed in early February that it had canceled the Kitten Bowl. Soon after, reports emerged that rival GAC Family might revive the program for 2023. Variety confirmed those rumors in a Feb. 11 report. 

The new special will be called the Great American Rescue Bowl. It will air Sunday, Feb. 12 on GAC Family. In addition to focusing on adoptable cats and kittens, the special will also feature puppies and dogs. 

“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 told 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.”

“I couldn’t be more excited that Great American Rescue Bowl is coming to GAC Family,” Beth Stern, foster parent and national spokesperson for North Shore Animal League America, said. “Hundreds of shelters across the country have participated throughout the years and tens of thousands of animals have been adopted as a result of these special events. I look forward to continuing the rich tradition of representing our kitten players and saving lives.”

Why did Hallmark Channel cancel the Kitten Bowl? 

A white and black cat on the field during Kitten Bowl VII
Kitten Bowl VII | ©2021 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: JJ Ignotz

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Hallmark aired the first Kitten Bowl in 2014. But after seven years, the network decided to shift its programming focus. 

“[W]e are not currently developing original animal-centric programming,” the network shared on Facebook, adding, “Hallmark Channel is pleased to support partners like North Shore Animal League America as part of our commitment to social responsibility initiatives.”

The Kitten Bowl is one of several shows Hallmark has canceled in recent months. Both Good Witch and the daytime talk show Home & Family ended their runs in summer 2021. Matchmaker Mysteries, Hailey Dean Mysteries, and Picture Perfect Mysteries have also been canceled at Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. 

GAC Family has revived another Hallmark series 

The Kitten Bowl rescue marks the second time GAC Family has stepped in to revive a Hallmark show. The network – which launched in September 2021 – has also ordered a second season of When Calls the Heart spinoff When Hope Calls. 

When Hope Calls premiered in 2019 on Hallmark’s streaming service, Hallmark Movies Now. Two years later, GAC Family announced it would be bringing back the long-dormant show for season 2. A two-part Christmas special aired in December 2021. It featured the return of Lori Loughlin, who Hallmark fired from When Calls the Heart in 2019 following the college admissions scandal, as well as a cameo appearance from former When Calls the Heart star Daniel Lissing. GAC Family has not yet announced an air date for the remainder of the season. 

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