For most, Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season. But Hallmark has been in the spirit since Oct. 26, when it launched “Countdown to Christmas,” its annual holiday-movie barrage — this year featuring 40 original films. Joining the festive fray, competitor Lifetime recently announced that it would also roll out a slate of holiday flicks — 30, to be exact — with its own tagline, “It’s a Wonderful Lifetime.”
We were curious about audience trends around these holiday movies, so we turned to Inscape, the TV data company with glass-level insights from a panel of more than 12 million smart TVs, to uncover insights including audience location, viewership crossover and minute-by-minute tune-in.
To narrow the data set a bit, we chose three of the most-watched movies so far from each network to compare; each first aired between Nov. 9-23: Hallmark’s Picture a Perfect Christmas, Christmas Under the Stars and Write Before Christmas, and Lifetime’s A Sweet Christmas Romance, Christmas a La Mode and Twinkle All the Way.
Looking at Inscape’s crossover viewership, it’s clear that Hallmark has a dedicated audience: For each of its movies we examined, crossover was highest with other Hallmark films. Lifetime viewers, on the other hand, were almost just as likely to watch the Hallmark movies as well as the other Lifetime films. (A note about methodology: You have to do more than just flip past a station with your remote to count as a “crossover viewer” in Inscape’s system. For the insights below, the minimum viewing threshold is 10 minutes.)
Some specific data points:
- The highest crossover among the films examined: 62% of Write Before Christmas viewers also tuned into Christmas Under the Stars, and 57% of them also watched Picture a Perfect Christmas — all on Hallmark.
- Of the Lifetime movies, 40% of Christmas a La Mode viewers watched Picture a Perfect Christmas and 39% tuned into Christmas Under the Stars (both Hallmark).
- The lowest crossover: Only 12% of Hallmark’s Christmas Under the Stars also watched A Sweet Christmas Romance (Lifetime).
Turning to viewer location, overall, the Eastern region of the U.S. has tuned in more than the West Coast.
Finally, a look at minute-by-minute viewership for each movie. For most of them, viewership increased over the course of the film — but there are two exceptions: For Lifetime’s A Sweet Christmas Romance, viewership leveled off in the second half (that second trendline below is for a re-airing); for Hallmark’s Write Before Christmas, viewership leveled off fairly close to the beginning before showing slight declines at the end.