Xmas Stunt Brings ABC Family Nielsen Cheer

There were plenty of ratings goodies in ABC Family’s stocking, as its 10th annual holiday stunt was its best ever with total viewers and several key demos.

The network’s “25 Days of Christmas” programming event, led by its most-watched telecast ever, the Dec. 9 premiere of original telefilm Holiday in Handcuffs, averaged 2.63 million viewers from Dec.1-Dec. 25 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. nightly, up 2% from the 2.57 million the stunt averaged in 2006, according to Nielsen Media Research data. During the aforementioned span, ABC Family trailed only sister service Disney Channel, which averaged a 2.74 million, in viewers.

Among adults 18 to 34 and adults 18 to 49, “25 Days” posted solid gains over its previous marks in 2006: a 15% advance to 511,000 watchers from 446,000 with the younger group and a 7% increase to 1.15 million with Madison Avenue’s most-coveted demo group from 1.07 million. All told, ABC Family trailed only ESPN (1.23 million) and TBS (1.20 million) in this year's span among the 18-to-49 set..

The network, which saw 6.73 million viewers, including 1.56 million persons 18 to 34 and 3.14 million adults 18 to 49, tune in the debut of Holiday in Handcuffs, also was first in all of cable in the daypart among women 18 to 34 (345,000) and women 18 to 49 (623,000).

Looking back at the stunt’s first decade, “25 Days” began with 1.58 million viewers on average during the aforementioned daypart from Dec. 1 –Dec. 25, 1998, a total that included 254,000 18-to-34 watchers and 597,000 of the 18-to-49 crowd, according to Nielsen data.

Growth continued through 2001 when there were 2.08 million viewers on average, with 338,000 among the younger adult demo and 830,000 18-to-49 watchers. During both 2002 and 2003, averages among viewers and those groups fell below the 2001 levels.

The stunt’s measures finally exceeded its 2001 marks with the three groups listed above in 2004 and have continued an annual climb since then, save for a 9,000 viewer drop to 350,000 among persons 18 to 34 in 2005.

With the record-setting numbers from Holiday in Handcuffs and strong returns another original telefilm, Snowglobe. and theatricals The Incredibles and How The Grinch Stole Christmas, ABC Family officials said the network was on pace to make December its most-watched primetime month ever with viewers (2.44 million), adults 18 to 34 (489,000), adults 18 to 49 (1.08 million) and women 18 to 49 (690,000).   

Similarly, ABC Family officials forecast that when Nielsen closes its books on Dec. 30, 2007 will wind up being the network’s top year in primetime relative to total viewers (1.16 million), adults 18 to 34 (276,000), adults 18 to 49 (530,000) and women 18 to 49 (338,000).