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December 16, 2022

Samba TV Insights Reveal U.S. Households Favor Comedic Holiday Classics, with Viewership Up Across the Board Over Last Year


Netflix Remains the Only Streamer to Crack the Top 10 Most-Watched List

SAN FRANCISCO – December 16, 2022 – With less than 10 days until Christmas, Samba TV, the leading global provider of television technology and omniscreen advertising and analytics, today announced new insights surrounding U.S. viewership of holiday movies throughout the holiday season. Between November 8 and December 11, American households overwhelmingly tuned in to the Christmas classics over new streaming releases, while Netflix was the only streamer to break into the stronghold of top movies with its own holiday offerings.

This year U.S. households were more eager to break out into the holiday spirit, as most holiday movies posted year-over-year viewership increases over the prior year. The most in-demand movie genre was comedies, sweeping the top three most-watched movies of the season, with households preferring laughs over tear-jerkers or romance in the run-up until Christmas. Millennials preferred to catch new holiday movies that featured their favorite stars via streaming platforms, over-indexing in viewership compared to the national average across the majority of new releases. Meanwhile, older viewers tended to favor the tried and true Christmas classics versus the national average and were more likely to skip the new releases on streaming platforms.

“Nothing evokes the holiday season quite like Christmas movies,” said Samba TV Co-Founder and CEO Ashwin Navin. “Gone are the days where the only way to watch a handful of holiday movies was tuning into the broadcast networks. Now we have hundreds of holiday-themed movies and specials at our fingertips via streamers like Netflix and Disney+ which are re-airing many of the old classics we love, while also featuring entirely new made-for-streaming releases. Whether you’re looking to share laughs with the Griswolds or re-visit the ultimate yippee ki yay Christmas classic Die Hard, there is certainly something for everyone this season and the increase in viewership highlights the demand audiences have for these classic holiday comfort movies.”

Key Findings:

  • Classic Holiday Movies are Winning the Holiday Season with Comedies as the Most-Watched Genre. American households are eager to re-watch the classic holiday staples. The most-watched movie in the leadup to Christmas was the 80s classic, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, viewed by 8.6M U.S. households. Home Alone followed closely behind, with 8.4M households, and Will Ferrel’s Elf nabbed 7.9M households. 
  • By comparison, only two new streaming holiday movies (Falling for Christmas and The Noel Diary, both on Netflix), surpassed 2.5M households within the same time period and cracked into the top ten most-watched films.  
  • Holiday Classics Saw Year-Over-Year Increases Versus Prior Year. Households were ready to break out the holiday cheer earlier this year, with 11 out of the 15 top viewed holiday classics all driving more viewership between November 8 and December 11 in 2022 than 2021. Top performers, including National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, and Elf saw year-over-year increases of 8%, 59%, and 224%, respectively.

  • Netflix Movies Dominate Among New Streaming Releases, Led by Falling for Christmas and The Noel Diary. Falling For Christmas and The Noel Diary were standouts among the new streaming holiday movies, driving 3.2M and 2.8M household views during the November 8 to December 11 timeframe. They were the only new holiday movies on streaming platforms to surpass 1.5M households within that time frame. The top-performing new streaming movie outside of Netflix’s catalog was Spirited on Apple TV+, which drove 1.4M views throughout the period.

  • Millennials Over-Index on New Streaming Holiday Movies Versus National Average, while Older Audiences Favor Holiday Classics. The older millennial age group (A35-44) over-indexed across all 11 of the top new streaming holiday movies measured between November 8 and December 11. HBO Max movies Santa Camp and A Christmas Mystery saw the highest over-indexes at +55% and +27%, respectively. Younger millennials (A25-34) also over-indexed across the majority of new streaming movies, with Freddie Prinze Jr.’s Christmas With You at number one at +13%. 
  • Younger millennials (A25-34) under-indexed on all but one of the top older holiday movies (The Christmas Chronicles 2), while over-indexing on the majority of new streaming releases. Meanwhile, the A55-64 group over-indexed on almost all holiday classics, while under-indexing across the majority of new streaming releases.

  • Hard-To-Reach Light TV Viewers Remain a Challenge to Reach. Light TV viewers, who watch little to no linear TV and comprise 45% of the U.S. population, under-indexed across almost every holiday movie measured, both old and new, compared to the national average. The one exception was Scrooge: A Christmas Carol on Netflix, which over-indexed among light TV viewers by 10%.
  • Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Boston Are Eager for Holiday Content, While Warmer DMAs Watch Less.Households in Pittsburgh over-indexed on every one of the top 20 holiday movies measured between November 8 and December 11 (both classics and new streaming releases), while Philadelphia and Boston households over-indexed on 17 and 16 each. Meanwhile, warmer DMAs like Dallas, Los Angeles, and Tampa each only over-indexed on 0 to 2 out of the top 20 movies. 

Navin continued, "Millennials gravitated to streaming platforms to watch their favorite holiday flicks. This demographic along with Gen Z is more than twice as likely to stream than they are to have a traditional linear subscription, so it's not surprising they are turning to streamers like Netflix to catch up on holiday content. We see the inverse of this trend among older audiences, who under-index on the majority of new streaming releases compared to the national average."

About Samba TV

Samba TV has transformed the TV from a pane of glass on the wall to a window into the heart of audiences. We are the global leader in television technology powering real-time insights and audience targeting to enable unparalleled marketing efficiency and effectiveness. Our proprietary first-party data from tens of millions of opted-in televisions, across more than 20 TV brands sold in over 100 countries, provides advertisers and media companies a unified view of the entire consumer journey. Our independent currency-grade measurement has future-proofed advertising for the next generation, empowering advertisers to connect with their audiences on any platform, across every screen.

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