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October 8, 2015

Ratings for holiday specials ain't what they used to be

by Brad Trechak, posted Dec 21st 2008 12:20AM
Star Wars Holiday SpecialTV Week reports that the ratings for various holiday special repeats are in decline as compared to last year. I'm curious as to why this is the case.

Network television is a free medium, and all but the most impoverished can afford some form of hardware to watch it. So why is viewership down? Is the recession dulling the holiday spirit? Are people selling their televisions in order to afford the mortgage?

I recall that someone once told me that the pro-wrestling industry always garners worse ratings during a recession. I always thought that was a strange statement to make, but there is some logic to it. Most pro-wrestling is on cable, which people have to pay for and is usually one of the first things to go when money gets tight. These holiday specials are on network TV.

The explanation in the article is the ubiquity of DVD and downloads. Nobody has to wait anymore to watch holiday programs. If this is the case, the television industry better step up their plans to change the medium before the viewership changes it for them.

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The best part about this whole article was the ad for that old Star Wars "holiday" (aka "Life Day" in the Star Wars universe) TV special. I remember watching that as a kid and thinking it soooo cool and wondering years later why they don't re-air it. Apparently hind sight is 20/20 and it really has not stood up to the test of time. LOL. But anyway, thanks for bringing back that great childhood memory for me.

December 22 2008 at 1:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I like Christmas specials. But I now have most of them on DVD, including ones I love but aren't shown, like Emmet Otter, A Very Merry Cricket, The Bear That Slept Through Christmas, etc. So I watch them when I want to. Even A Christmas Carol, the Sims version, isn't shown that often. So I watch my copy. By the way, thanks for the Star Wars shot. I actually watched that piece of...anyway, if only I had taped it then...

December 21 2008 at 6:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Don't forget about the outdated Nielsen system. The families they picked this year have been either watching a lot of crap or nothing at all. There have been a lot of quality shows this year that are not getting good ratings. They have already cancelled some of them thanks to this years sorry Nielsen families. You can't seriously believe that only 5 million people out of 300 + million Americans are watching some of the good shows on tv. Yet Knight Rider was getting close to 10 million viewers weekly early in this season. There is no way these Nielsen numbers are even close to accurate. The damn networks need to wake up and start using something other than Nielsens fuzzy math numbers or they are just gonna keep throwing money away always cancelling shows and replacing them with more shows that they are just gonna cancel in a year or two.

December 21 2008 at 4:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think it is because Christmas merchandising starts in October. By the time the December specials start, people have the "been there, done that" feeling.

December 21 2008 at 11:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Sassone

I think this decline might be overstated. Sure, the numbers might be down, but all of these specials have still made it into the top 20 ratings for the week. And that's pretty amazing, considering these specials have been shown on TV every single year for the past 10, 20, 30, 40 years and are also out on DVD.

December 21 2008 at 11:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think the reason is more simplistic. when times are hard nobody feels warm and fuzzy. we'd rather watch someone get the snot beat out of them. it helps to relieve our collective stress

December 21 2008 at 9:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Perhaps it is the DVDs and the lack of classic moments like this:


December 21 2008 at 1:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If people are anything like me they don't watch holiday specials on TV anymore, I watch on DVD, or on my Zune... I watch a lot of Christmas TV (including as many episodes of TV shows from Christmas) but on my schedule.

Rudolph...excellent...Rudolph on Wednesday at 8:00 PM/7:00 central...with some cuts for time? Uh, no thank you.

December 21 2008 at 1:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"...the pro-wrestling industry always garners worse ratings during a recession."

It makes sense. Much of the adult crowd the "sport" atracts often ocupy low-paying jobs or at least jobs most likely to be cut during a recession. I mean nothing by it b/c I find much of pro wrestling entertaining and I'm almost broke with no job (I get the G.I. Bill so no big thing). The first thing many of my friends get rid of when they are feeling the pinch is cable. They would rather be shot than giving up their iPhone bills...

December 21 2008 at 12:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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