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The Christmas Streaming Miracle

Say what you will about Netflix’s film strategy, but the company consistently nails holiday fare.
Say what you will about Netflix’s film strategy, but the company consistently nails holiday fare. Photo: Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Netflix
Julia Alexander
November 21, 2023

It won’t shock anyone to learn that Americans watch a lot of TV between Thanksgiving and the New Year. Streaming, in particular, gets a massive holiday jolt: Last year, during the week of Christmas, U.S. households watched more than 183 billion minutes across major streaming platforms, an all-time high, according to Nielsen. To put things in perspective, that’s about 15 percent more streaming hours than in March 2020, when most of the country was locked down watching Tiger King.

Of course, more views doesn’t necessarily equal more money for streamers. The entire industry is now embracing advertising, but CPMs are still small potatoes compared to subscriptions. Obviously, more people are streaming during the holidays because more people are at home. The real revenue question is whether hokey movie franchises like Netflix’s A Christmas Prince, or Warners/Max classics like Elf—not to mention the thousands of hours of Hallmark slop you can now binge on Peacock—are actually driving acquisition and/or retention. Seasonal programming was always a must-have on traditional pay TV… but does it really move the needle on streaming?