As the Christmas season approaches, I’ve come to the realization that my children, now all teenagers, are not excited for the annual parade of Christmas specials airing on TV anymore. It makes me a little sad and a bit nostalgic for the time when they were little and we would pop some popcorn, cuddle under warm blankets on the couch with hot chocolate in our hands to catch our favorite holiday specials.
Now, with the abundance of streaming services we can watch many of our favs whenever the mood strikes. So, in no particular order here is my list of the Top 10 must see Christmas specials:
- Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer – Airing every year since its release in 1964, who can resist watching the longest running holiday special in television history. It’s the story of a misfit reindeer who saves Christmas by guiding Santa’s sleigh with his glowing nose. Watch: CBS 12/19 @6:45pm, 12/24 @9pm and various other times. Stream: CBS live via Hulu.
- Frosty the Snowman – With the help of a magic hat a jolly, happy snowman comes to life and parades through town before he melts away, thumpity thump thump, thumpity thump thump! Watch: CBS 12/19 @ 6:10pm, 12/24 @8:30pm and various other times. Stream: CBS live via Hulu.
- A Charlie Brown Christmas – Depressed at the commercialism he sees around him; Charlie Brown tries to find a deeper meaning to Christmas. Watch: 12/19 on PBS. Stream: Apple+
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) – Nothing beats the original! A grumpy hermit hatches a plan to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville only to discover Christmas is a feeling and not about things. Stream: TNT and TBS, or with Peacock.
- Shrek the Halls – Shrek wants the perfect Christmas for him and his family but he has no clue how to do it. He buys a book on how to do Christmas perfectly and everything is going well, until donkey and gang decide to intrude. Watch: 12/24 on ABC. Stream: Netflix
- Elf – The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear! Watch Buddy the Elf’s journey from the North Pole to NYC in search of his biological father, who just happens to be on the naughty list. Stream: HBO Max, AMC+, Starz.
- The Santa Clause – an ordinary man who accidently kills Santa Claus on Christmas eve is magically turned into the new Santa Claus. Watch: Freeform: 12/17 @5:10pm, 12/22 @7:15pm and various other times. Stream: Disney+.
- Home Alone – An eight-year-old troublemaker must protect his house from a pair of burglars when he is accidentally left home alone by his family during Christmas vacation. Watch: Freeform 12/25 @6:45pm and various other times. Stream: Disney+.
- National Lampoons Christmas Vacation – In classic Griswold style, Clark prepares for a perfect “fun old-fashioned family Christmas” with anything but perfect results. Stream: HBO Max.
- The Polar Express – When a doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe. Stream: HBO Max, AMC+
TV upfronts are a big deal and are worth millions in negotiations to network media buyers and TV networks. Every summer there is an upfront in which large inventory pools are sold by station networks to advertising agencies in order to ‘get the best deal’ for national clients. Traditionally the TV stations sell about 70% of their national TV inventory in the upfront selling period which starts in June, with cable TV networks making upfront deals for around 50% to 60% of their inventory. This year OTT provider Roku came to the table, and they came with industry changing standards:
“Unlike TV networks, Roku says it is much more flexible when it comes to marketers adjusting their media buys. Roku offers a two-day cancellation option. For traditional TV, marketers typically can cancel only 25% of their buys in the first quarter and 50% in each of the second and third quarters — and must do so with a 60-day advance notice.”
Roku as a Disruptor
Linear TV is already under immense pressure to compete with digital, impression-based buys. The digital space is advantageous for TV marketers because of all the analytics and data that can track spots down to the household and viewers within those households. Linear TV and cable providers have taken a big hit in ratings because of the rise of OTT viewership (that has trackability) during the COVID pandemic. As audiences fragment further linear TV and Nielsen data sources are trying their best to figure out a way to measure their audience viewership more accurately. Not only is Roku disrupting the Linear space but now the upfront negotiations.
What Makes Roku Such a Big Player in the Space?
“Roku touts OneView, its ad buying platform, as the first platform to feature Nielsen-measured reach and frequency reporting across all four screens: linear TV, TV streaming, desktop and mobile.”
“One of the immutable laws of television holds that people between the ages of 18 and 49 are the most desirable viewers to reach. This year, the networks want to loosen that definition.”
Millennials were the first generation to really break up with linear TV, and the Gen Zoomers are following that trend. It’s evident the death of linear tv sales is happening in real time.
As Audiences Fragment so does the Advertising Inventory
“NBCUniversal has made no secret of the fact that it believes streaming video represents the new primetime. Ad buyers say the company is in some instances seeking eye-popping increases of around 50% in CPMs – the cost to reach 1,000 viewers, a unit that is central to the annual upfront negotiations – for ad on Peacock. The CPM rates for HBOMax are said to possibly be even higher.”
Gone are the days where upfronts where between the 4-6 top station networks. These negotiations will continue to see more and more big players in the OTT space participate. There may even come a day where prime linear TV inventory is offered as ‘added value’ to an OTT campaign.
Clients, whether national, regional, or local, need to look to their agencies to place their messages inside OTT and CTV now, if they want to capture a lion share of the younger generations. If your agency isn’t well versed in both forms of media, then it’s time for you to look for another agency.