How Hallmark Channel Made Christmas the Most Lucrative Time of the Year

Countdown to Christmas, a big risk when it launched 10 years ago, has become a windfall

A still from the Hallmark movie A Christmas Love Story
Countdown to Christmas has grown from four original movies in 2009 to a full round-the-clock marathon. Brian Douglas/Crown Media United States LLC

A decade ago, as upstart Hallmark Channel struggled to make a name for itself in a cluttered cable landscape, the network decided on a bold move: turning its fledgling original Christmas movie output (the first of which aired in 2002, one year after the network launched) into a holiday event called Countdown to Christmas. Getting audiences to expect holiday-themed content whenever they turned on the network would give it “a competitive advantage,” reasoned Bill Abbott, president and CEO of Crown Media Family Networks—but success was far from guaranteed.

This story first appeared in the Dec. 2, 2019, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.
@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.