‘Tis the season… for the nets to go all-Christmas, all the time.
Once content with sprinking their schedules with a few Charlie Brown, Rudolph and “It’s a Wonderful Life” showings, the nets are blanketing their post-Thanksgiving lineups with wall-to-wall holiday offerings.
This season, for example, NBC has the umpteeth remake of “A Christmas Carol” — this time reshaped as a musical starring Kelsey Grammer — and a Clay Aiken holiday special.
ABC, meanwhile, promises festive kitsch from “Nick & Jessica’s Family Christmas,” as well as the staple “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
CBS offers up the movies “When Angels Come to Town” and “A Very Married Christmas,” as well as perennial “Frosty the Snowman,” while Fox will air a new Popeye special and a Christmas reunion for all three “American Idol” winners.
Even WB is in the holiday hunt, airing another classic, the 1966 “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
The broadcast webs are taking a page from cable, which learned how to stay competitive by adapting to the season, even as a large chunk of viewers were out singing carols and drinking nog. ABC Family, for example, has found success with its annual “25 Days of Christmas” strategy.
“I think there’s an opportunity there,” says CBS senior exec VP Kelly Kahl, whose network has traditionally gone the most holiday-centric. “The sales demand for holiday specials is always strong — and it’s popular with affiliates.”
Going holiday-heavy also helps the nets avoid their traditional December staple: Repeats.
“Viewers get less upset with you, and are more understanding, when you take out shows and put in a holiday special,” Kahl says. “There’s more of a legitimate reason for the shows not being there. It’s a good solution to a tricky time of year.”