“Home for the holidays” conjures many images, and when it comes to watching television during the month of December, that image is probably cable television, which accrues three-fourths of all gross impressions associated with holiday-themed TV programming.
As 2015 winds down with the holiday season and New Year’s fast approaching, we thought we’d depart from our standard blog format and concentrate – not on a particular show or major sport – but rather on cable programming thematically linked to the upcoming holiday season.
In order to do so, we started out by searching the Rentrak database (for the broadcast month of December, 2014) utilizing four key series search terms: “Holiday”; “Christmas”; “Hanukkah”; and “Kwanzaa.” In all, the Rentrak Summary Report returned well over 800 telecasts, which we grouped into one of three major sources of viewing:
1) Ad-supported Cable Networks;
2) Broadcast Networks;
3) Premium Cable & Home Shopping Networks.
As can be seen below, ad-supported cable has — by far — the largest slice of the holiday pie:
When we parsed the holiday-themed cable programs by genre, the appeal of holiday movies came into ultra-sharp focus. Over one-third of all cable gross impressions accrued to such programming, followed by Comedies, Romance Movies and Kid & Animation programming:
The “Big 3” of Holiday-Themed Programming
By our count, there are over 40 ad-supported cable networks providing holiday-themed programming for the month of December, with three major networks – Hallmark Channel, ABC Family and Lifetime – accruing nearly 60% of all ad-supported gross impressions (which translates into 45% of all impressions across all sources of viewing):
In focusing on the “Big 3” holiday cable networks, it’s clear that holiday-themed programming plays a crucial role in their overall December programming lineups. Hallmark Channel, for example, devotes practically one-half of their total day programming minutes to holiday themed programs; Lifetime nearly one-quarter and ABC Family 18%. And their respective ratings get quite a boost with holiday-themed programs, which range anywhere from +50% (ABC Family & Hallmark), to +100% (Lifetime) over and above their non-Holiday themed programming:
Local Cable Advertising
There is tremendous demand for Holiday-themed programming during the last month of the year and we estimate that 4% of total Viamedia company-wide advertising dollars accrue to such programming. Last December 2014, 1,500 clients ordered nearly 75,000 30-second spots on holiday programming across 70 Viamedia markets. That’s practically our entire nation-wide footprint. (Source: Viamedia internal analysis of B.I.G.SM database (Sports & High Profile Tracker module). Copyright © 2015 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
And when we confine our analysis to the markets that exhibited advertising on Holiday-themed programming over the past two Decembers (2014 & 2015), we see a dramatic 27% increase in ad investments driven primarily by an increase in the number of 30-second spots. All in all, two-thirds of Viamedia markets experienced an increase in December local cable ad sales. (Source: Viamedia internal analysis of B.I.G.SM database (Sports & High Profile Tracker module). Copyright © 2015 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
Not surprisingly, the three networks that delivered the greatest number of Gross Impressions also received the greatest level of local cable advertising support. Collectively, Hallmark Channel, ABC Family and Lifetime accounted for 59% of all holiday-themed cable impressions and practically the same percentage of advertising dollars (60%.)
Local Cable Product Categories
The four largest local cable advertising categories comprise 60% of all advertising investments, and are all associated with the December Holidays, such as year-end automotive sales, entertainment & vacation travel and retail & grocery shopping:
A Month Filled with Holiday Programming
As family and friends gather together to enjoy the holiday season, there is sure to be good food, good company and more than enough holiday-themed programming on cable to take everyone through the entire month of December and into the New Year. Enjoy!
For more information on Viamedia, visit www.viamediatv.com.
– Written by Jonathan Sims, VP Media Research, Viamedia