Hallmark Channel was in the news earlier this week for briefly pulling a bridal ad featuring a lesbian couple—and then, quickly and apologetically, reversing that decision. It was a rare, self-inflicted black eye for a cable network that’s better known at this time of year for its heaping, helping servings of Christmas cheer. For 10 years straight (so to speak), Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” has been a programming juggernaut; the network announced that it would air 40 original Christmas movies this season.
BuzzFeed recently stated the obvious—“Hallmark Christmas Movies Dominate The Holiday Season Because Fans Want An Escape From Everyday Life” (subhead: “‘It’s just something to watch that’s mindless and doesn’t stress you out’”)—but it turns out the escape factor is only part of the “Countdown to Christmas” story.
According to newly released data from iSpot.tv, Hallmark Channel’s Christmas obsession actually delivers for its advertisers: In November (“Countdown to Christmas” kicked off this year on Oct. 26), Hallmark Channel delivered an iSpot Lift Rating of 57.7 percent for its retail-store advertisers. Translation: iSpot tracks a bunch of key performance indicators, such as website visits, that can be linked explicitly to commercial airings across TV networks; the company also tracks the behavior of a control group of consumers who were not exposed to the ads that aired on specific networks. By establishing benchmarks for different sectors (not just retail stores, but automotive, wireless, etc.), iSpot can then calculate the incremental business, or lift, prompted by a given network’s commercial airings.
That 57.7 percent iSpot Lift Rating for Hallmark Channel was the best boost any TV network gave to retail advertisers in November. The data appears to formalize what many marketers seem to know already, given their recurring support of Hallmark Channel’s Christmaspalooza. According to iSpot, department stores spent an estimated $3.22 million airing ads on the network in November, generating 1.8 billion impressions. Department stores were also the No. 1 marketer category in terms of both spend and impressions for Hallmark Channel across the full month.
So, yes, “Christmas Wishes & Mistletoe Kisses” (that’s the actual title of an actual Hallmark Channel original movie) and the like may be loved by viewers for the low-key escapism they offer, but the bottom line is that Hallmark Channel holiday programming gets viewers seriously revved up to shop.