Audiences hungry for a little early holiday programming found — and stayed with — Hallmark Channel last week, as a big helping of original movies boosted the network to a No. 1 finish among cable networks in its target demo and to its largest-ever weekly audience.
The five-night Thanksgiving Weekend Event on Hallmark Channel featured one original movie each night, with the top numbers coming for “A Christmas Detour” on Saturday, according to Nielsen. The film (pictured), starring Candace Cameron Bure and Paul Greene, averaged a 0.67 rating in adults 18-49 and 4.778 million viewers overall. Among all scripted cable programs last week, it ranked behind only AMC’s “The Walking Dead” (13.98 million) and “Into the Badlands” (5.17 million).
Also faring well were “Crown for Christmas” on Friday (0.68 in 18-49, 4.29 million viewers overall) and “Angel of Christmas” on Sunday (0.54 in 18-49, 3.32 million). The largest audience for a Hallmark Channel original movie remains “Christmas Under Wraps,” which drew 5.8 million viewers around this time a year ago.
Among all cable networks for the week of Nov. 23-29, Hallmark Channel ranked No. 2 in primetime total viewers (all-time high 2.48 million), behind only ESPN (3.45 million), and No. 1 in its target women 25-54 demo (516,000 or a 0.86 rating). It also placed No. 6 in adults 18-49 (517,000 or 0.41 rating) and No. 3 in women 18-49 (385,000 or 0.60 rating). In addition to the five new telepics, Hallmark also loaded up its week with encores of other original holiday movies.
“This year, we doubled down on our programming efforts and rolled out original holiday premieres for five consecutive nights, beginning on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving,” said Michelle Vicary, executive vice president, programming & network publicity, Crown Media Family Networks. “The Thanksgiving Weekend Event brought Countdown to Christmas to a whole new level by providing more of what our audience wants during this pivotal time of year, offering the season, family-friendly entertainment that is widely absent n cable.”
Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas continues this weekend with the original premiere of “Just in Time for Christmas” on Saturday, and “Karen Kingsbury’s The Bridge” on Sunday. Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ own event, The Most Wonderful Movies of Christmas, also continues with the original premiere of “The Big Magic Stocking” on Sunday.