MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA--(Marketwired - Dec 15, 2015) - There was a time when nearly every primetime comedy or drama featured a holiday-themed episode in mid-December. There were memorable Christmases in the Brady household and on Gilligan's Island, and more recently who can forget David Schwimmer from "Friends" dressed as an armadillo in a Hanukkah-themed episode or Jane Lynch as the "Grinch" in season 2 of "Glee"?

While shows like "The Simpsons" have by and large maintained this perennial tradition -- which you may recall actually debuted 26 years ago as a Christmas special and has featured 17 Christmas-themed episodes over the years -- for a variety of reasons fewer and fewer TV families are seen hanging their stockings with care. No worries. Christmas movies have more than taken up the slack, with December schedules increasingly padded with storylines involving elves, reindeer and jolly Old St. Nick himself.

ABC Family is making the biggest bet, doubling down this year with 64 different Christmas movies airing a total of 249 times between December 1 and December 25 for nearly 500 hours of holiday programming. Hallmark is a relatively distant second with 12 original Christmas movies airing 39 times. Tune-in data from the 12 million monthly U.S. users of the Peel Smart Remote app released today seems to confirm the wisdom of this approach.

Based on data from the 2014 holiday season, an average of 65% of viewers remain tuned in to Christmas-themed movies at the 30-minute mark, well above the norm for non-holiday fare which ranges from 52% for older shows like "NCIS" to 65% for a popular new show like "Blackish." And ABC Family's Top 3 holiday movies performed even better, averaging close to 70% of users remaining tuned in.

Advertisers should definitely take note: the ability of holiday-themed movies to draw and hold an audience in December remains true across all ages and demographics, according to the Peel data, although the specific movies they like to watch varies. Millennials' top pick was "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" followed by "Prancer" and "Elf." The popularity of this key demographic with advertisers explains why these three movies alone will air on ABC Family 26 times this month.

As might be expected, baby boomers were 3X as likely to watch "It's A Wonderful Life" as "The Santa Clause," so expect to see lots of luxury car ads when Jimmy Stewart takes to the screen.

Holiday themed movies are most preferred by the female demographic who make up 57% of the viewing audience, with some of Hallmark's fare drawing as much as 71% of its audience from women.

The three most anticipated movies across all viewer groups based on the number of reminders to watch set by Peel Smart Remote users are 1) Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (ABC Family); 2) Elf (ABC Family) and 3) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (CBS).

In contrast, Peel data indicated that holiday themed episodes of 10 primetime series examined were on average no more likely to have either increased viewership or increased stickiness than a regular season episode. The one consistent exception has been "The Simpsons." The number of users tuning in to the Christmas episode, according to Peel data, was 120% higher than a normal episode with roughly the same ratio of viewers remaining tuned in after 15 minutes, which would seem to justify the higher advertising rates Fox charges. "The Family Guy" and "New Girl" also saw holiday bumps of 38% and 25% respectively.

About Peel
Peel is revolutionizing the home entertainment and home control experience by integrating device control and live or streamed content discovery into one easy-to-navigate universal Peel Smart Remote app, which has 135M-plus registered users globally, generating 10 billion remote commands a month. Peel drives brand engagement and TV tune-in for major TV networks and producers through its True Tune-in™ advertising products and Platform.