Macy’s Will ‘Reimagine’ This Year’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Due to Covid-19

NBC's annual telecast drew 22.1 million last year

Image from a previous Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Last year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade averaged 22.1 million viewers and a 5.5 rating in the 18-49 demo. Peter Kramer/NBC
Headshot of Jason Lynch

As the Covid-19 pandemic shows no signs of abating in the U.S., it is already upending several fall TV mainstays, including college football games (many of which have been postponed until 2021) and the traditional start of the new season (which will be delayed, with most shows still unable to resume production). But at least one fall TV tradition will continue as planned: the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Macy’s said it will “reimagine” the parade, which airs on NBC and is routinely one of the year’s most-watched entertainment telecasts, but that the show will go on, despite the pandemic.

“For more than 90 years, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has kicked off the holiday season with its signature entertainment spectacle, making it one of the world’s most beloved events,” Macy’s said in a statement on its website. “Following our successful, safe and innovative production of Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks, it is our intention to similarly reimagine Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this November. Stay tuned for more details later this fall.”

Last year, NBC’s telecast of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade averaged 22.1 million viewers and a 5.5 rating in the 18-49 demo. Both were the highest total viewer and demo results for an entertainment telecast since the 2019 Oscars.

Meanwhile, 3.5 million people turn up in New York each year to watch the parade live—a mass gathering that the city will not allow during the pandemic.

The 94-year-old Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has ballooned into a cherished holiday tradition and is a “dream” for the brands who partner with it.

Macy’s and NBC already have some experience revamping a holiday telecast as a result of Covid-19. For last month’s annual Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular, Macy’s conducted surprise fireworks displays around New York in the days leading up to the holiday—in an effort to prevent crowds from congregating for the usual July 4 fireworks—and featured those in the telecast.

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.