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Cable Technology Feature Article

November 19, 2012

Cable TV Embraces the Holidays

By Shankar Pandiath, TMCnet Contributor

If there’s one well to tell if the holidays are near, it’s to turn to television. Shows, commercials and special airings of movies all contribute to the holiday season each year. The popular channel, Hallmark, in association with a comprehensive broadcasting network schedule, transforms holidays into a cable TV industry, and has already started with its two months of wall-to-wall holiday programming session. In the meantime, Lifetime has invigorated the seasonal selections, introducing “ten new made-for-TV movies,” of which the first one was aired recently.

The ever-popular annual “25 Days of Christmas” programming by ABC Family is not enough. Hence, they have introduced “Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas,” which will be starting shortly. This new program, in addition to the ever-popular old favorites like Charlie Brown and Frosty the Snowman, are expected to fill the broadcast network schedule through the entire next month. An innovative and already popular TV genre is growing in power of late, followed by 22 new movies that Lifetime and Hallmark are introducing in between. A new Disney (News - Alert) holiday musical is also lined up in the broadcasting network schedule for the next month.

The strategy was developed naturally from intrinsic demand, giving people what they really want, remarked Rob Sharenow, executive vice-president of Programming, Lifetime Networks. According to a study by A C Nielsen, a mere preview of the upcoming movie “Christmas Song” aired on Hallmark on Nov. 3 was a big hit that left behind ESPN (News - Alert) in cable viewership during that time. “The Christmas Card,” one of Hallmark’s 2006 releases, is still the most-viewed original movie in the television network. Hallmark will repeat telecast the movie again this season.

In this context, Bill Abbott, chief executive officer and president of Hallmark Channels, stated that there are other channels trying to replicate and emulate what they do, but he maintains that no other channel can do it better than Hallmark as they are an established brand.

Lifetime is making an aggressive investment in this area as it is a relatively newcomer in the network. The channel is an ever-popular maker of television movies, appealing best to women. And now, it has come with their biggest success in the year, “Steel Magnolia” remake with Queen Latifah, aired on October. This huge hit has even surprised the network executives owing to its high potency.

In addition to the upcoming originals, Lifetime will air more than fifty seasonal films, which is the biggest commitment ever in the history of television network. Sharenow said that in a situation like this, people desire to feel good. With increasing demand for feel-good escapism, these Lifetime movies are a great fun, offering what people demand. These movies are a like small Christmas gifts to people.

Hallmark has decided to devote completely to holiday programming, literally shutting down all its regular programming for two months. This holiday focus started on Nov. 9 and will end on Jan. 2, 2013. At the same time, ABC Family is focusing on holiday movies that have already been hit on the theaters.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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