It’s not even Halloween yet, much less Thanksgiving. But on cable, it’s already Christmas, and the war for Christmas movie dominance is upon us. There’s no time for pumpkins and turkey when there’s a ratings war to be won. Let the peppermint mocha bloodbath begin!
On Friday, October 25, Lifetime will launch “It’s a Wonderful Lifetime,” their lineup of Christmas programming. I’ve been receiving a promoted tweet that announces proudly that, “Lifetime is the ONLY place to watch Christmas movies all day, every day, all season long.” Shots VERY MUCH fired!
But Hallmark is not ceding the field. Their flagship channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” is a mere day behind “It’s a Wonderful Lifetime,” and their Christmas programming on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries in fact begins the same day as Lifetime’s offering launch, on October 25. (I’m so sorry to fans of Crossword Mysteries.) It is in fact the TENTH ANNIVERSARY of Countdown to Christmas, as Hallmark will happily remind you in all of their promotional materials. The brand has also announced that it will be sponsoring an event in New Jersey called “Christmas Con,” which aims to be Comic Con for Christmas movies. Even as I was writing this post, I received a PR email from Sirius XM, announcing that once again they’d be hosting Hallmark Channel Radio to coincide with Countdown to Christmas, also launching on the 25th:
SiriusXM’s Hallmark Channel Radio will keep you in the holiday spirit, day and night, with timeless Christmas music and carols introduced by the Hallmark Channel family including Lacey Chabert, Andrew Walker, Chad Michael Murray, Jill Wagner, Sam Page, Torrey DeVitto and more. They’ll take you behind the scenes of their new “Countdown to Christmas” movies, share their treasured holiday traditions and memories as well as their favorite songs from the season.
(For those keeping track of the post-Operation Varsity Blues power ranking of Hallmark stars, Candace Cameron-Bure will be the voice of the channel.)
Indeed, you are seeing the two brands go head-to-head. Looking up details on “Christmas Con,” which is sponsored by Hallmark, I was greeted with a giant banner ad for Lifetime’s offerings. I’m concerned one of these brands is on the verge of running the other off a backcountry road in the dead of night, probably into a giant field of Christmas trees.
And let’s not forget Netflix, which got a taste of sweet, sweet Christmas enthusiasm with A Christmas Prince in 2017 and has been chasing the sugar high ever since. Offerings this year include Vanessa Hudgens in a time-travel Christmas romance—takes me back to the late 80s early 90s time-travel romance boom, let me tell you—and Kiernan Shipka in an adaptation of a John Green novel. Also, of course, a Christmas Prince royal baby movie. They’ve got a highlight reel and everything. Someone, anybody, please dig me out of this mountain of fake snow!
The real question: Who is going to make the friends-to-lovers Christmas rom com about the executives at feuding cable channels? Come on, guys!