How Hallmark Channel Made Christmas the Most Lucrative Time of the Year

Countdown to Christmas, a big risk when it launched 10 years ago, has become a windfall

A decade ago, as upstart Hallmark Channel struggled to make a name for itself in a cluttered cable landscape, the network decided on a bold move: turning its fledgling original Christmas movie output (the first of which aired in 2002, one year after the network launched) into a holiday event called Countdown to Christmas. Getting audiences to expect holiday-themed content whenever they turned on the network would give it “a competitive advantage,” reasoned Bill Abbott, president and CEO of Crown Media Family Networks—but success was far from guaranteed.

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This story first appeared in the Dec. 2, 2019, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.