Hallmark Channel is getting its viewers into the holiday spirit in a big way.
The network’s “Countdown to Christmas” programming stunt, featuring 12 original movies, has provided a major ratings boost for the month of November that Hallmark hopes will continue through December and into the new year.
Hallmark’s first seven original movies — The Thanksgiving House, Snow Bride, A Very Merry Mix-Up, The Christmas Ornament, Catch a Christmas Star, Winter Wonderland and Fir Crazy — averaged nearly 4 million viewers during the month of November, propelling the network to an average of 1.7 million primetime viewers, a record November for the Crown Media Holdings-owned outlet.
The network’s holiday movie offerings remained hot over the Thanksgiving weekend: the Nov. 30 premiere of Let It Snow drew 4.2 million viewers, and Dec. 1’s Christmas Spirit drew 3.3 million watchers.
Overall, “Countdown to Christmas” is up 42% among total viewers compared to last year, and 28% in the network’s key audience of adults 25-54. Crown Media Family Networks CEO Bill Abbott said the network’s original movies have resonated with viewers looking for original, family-friendly programming to watch during the holiday season.
“Our brand is second to none, especially in the holiday space, for high-quality family programming,” Abbott said. “It gives us a very unique advantage against those who also want to participate in the space and be competitive.”
The original movies provide an opportunity for family co-viewing that doesn’t present itself with the litany of adult-oriented programming on cable, Abbott said. “So much of the [television] universe features younger, sexier, more violent programming and around the holidays viewers are really looking for that destination of warm-and-fuzzy programming, ” he said.
Other networks have jumped into the holiday programming fray, such as ABC Family with its perennial “25 Days Of Christmas” programming stunt launched last week (Dec. 1), and Lifetime, which is airing its holiday programming under the “It’s a Wonderful Lifetime” banner. But Abbott said he’s not concerned about the competition.
“We’ve continued our momentum over the past week despite the increased competition and in spite of the fact that viewers are distracted with shopping and other goings-on throughout the season,” he said.
Hallmark Channel has seen a ratings bump from its slate of family friendly original holiday films.
HOLIDAY MOVIE SPIRIT
Original cable holiday movies set for December:
Hats Off to Christmas Dec. 14
Finding Christmas Dec. 15
Christmas on the Bayou Dec. 14
A Snow Globe Christmas Dec. 14
Marry Me for Christmas Dec. 14
In addition, the following telefilms which already debuted will re-air throughout the month: Christmas in the City (Lifetime); Holidaze (ABC Family); Santa Switch (Hallmark); and Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas (UP).
SOURCE: Multichannel News research