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.

Still, the network thought, “even if our ratings slipped in some places because we went 24/7, it was still worth it because we are creating a destination and becoming synonymous with holiday,” said Abbott.



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