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25 Days of Christmas (also known as ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas, previously known as Fox Family's 25 Days of Christmas) is an annual programming block that has been shown on ABC Family and its predecessors since 1996. As the title implies, the special programming is shown every year from December 1 to December 25, showing classic holiday programming (such as Rankin/Bass' classic TV specials), as well as new Christmas-themed television movies each year; generally few of the network's original series air during the time period, outside of Christmas special episodes. In 2006, the channel aired fewer seasonal films and added general-interest family movies such as Harry Potter, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as well as Disney films including Mary Poppins, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. Starting in 2007, ABC Family extended the "25" days into November with a Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas block.
Every year since the block started in 1996, at least one new holiday-related TV film has been produced (except in 2002). Starting in 2005, two TV films have been produced. In 2007, three films were created for the block, due to the popularity of the previous year's films.
The Family Channel's 25 Days of Christmas
Fox Family's 25 Days of Christmas
ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas
The following non-original (originally premiered direct to video, or on some other TV network or cable channel, or as a theatrical featurette) Christmas specials, or Christmas-themed episodes of television programs are presently being featured during 25 Days of Christmas (including Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas):
The following non-original (originally premiered theatrically, or direct to video, or on some other TV network or cable channel) Christmas movies are presently being featured during 25 Days of Christmas (including Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas):
In 2007, due to popular ratings from the previous year, ABC Family launched the first official countdown to the programming block, which began on November 21. Although this was the first official early start, in previous years holiday programming had unofficially begun during the last week of November, showing mostly older original films, some of which pertained to Christmas and some that did not. "Countdown to the '25 Days of Christmas'" returned in 2008 on November 16.
The Countdown to the 25 Days of Christmas returned again in 2009, with an even earlier start date than before: November 10. In 2010, it started later in the month, on November 20. November 20 was also the start date in 2011 and 2013. In 2012 the countdown began at an earlier date of November 18th. In 2013, the countdown began on November 20th.
The network premiere of The Polar Express was watched by more than 4 million viewers. An encore airing on December 9th was watched by a record 5 million viewers. It became the most watched programming to ever air on ABC Family. The debut airing of the film, Santa Baby, was watched by 4.7 million viewers.
The first week of programming averaged 2.3 million viewers.
The third annual "Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas" was watched by 1.2 million viewers. The first week of viewers for "25 Days of Christmas" averaged 1.2 million viewers as well. The network premiere of The Santa Clause 3 was watched by 1.6 million viewers, while an airing of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was watched by 1.5 million viewers. The premiere of Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe was watched by 3.8 million total viewers.
The fourth annual "Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas" was watched by 2.1 million viewers. The lineup began its first week with record breaking 3 million average viewers. The December 12th premiere of Christmas Cupid was watched by a total of 3.4 million viewers. Total viewers for 2010 broke records, averaging 2.8 million viewers. An airing of How the Grinch Stole Christmas drew 1.3 million viewers.
The first week of the 25 Days of Christmas was watched by an average of 2.2 million viewers, down 27% from last year. During the second week, viewers increased to 2.4 million, thanks to the premiere of 12 Dates of Christmas. However, this was still down 30% from the previous year. Overall viewers for the 2011 lineup averaged 2.3 million viewers.
In 2012, the programming block had its most ever total viewers in its debut week, with 2.9 million. An airing of the film Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas on December 2nd became the lineup's most watched program ever, with 5.4 million viewers. Other notable airings included, the network premiere of Despicable Me, watched by over 4.3 million viewers, and a Christmas Eve airing of The Santa Clause 2, watched by 3.9 million viewers. The programming block averaged 2.8 million viewers for 2012, on pace with 2010.