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DEC
29
3 YEARS

What Were the Most-Watched Holiday Specials of 2010?

A Charlie Brown Christmas
United Features Syndicate/Courtesy Everett Collection
"A Charlie Brown Christmas"

Charlie Brown, Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman TV specials are just as much a part of Americans' holiday traditions as ornaments and eggnog. But which seasonal mainstay managed to lure the most viewers this year?

When looking at total viewers of all holiday-themed specials that aired between Nov. 24-Dec. 28, CBS' Hallmark Hall of Fame movie November Christmas actually pulled in the most eyeballs, averaging 13.5 million viewers for its Nov. 28 telecast. (We're using total-viewer figures instead of specific demos based on the assumption that kids of all ages enjoy watching the holiday specials, some of which are decades-old classics.)

Coming in second was Santa's four-legged friend Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer. The classic tied with NBC's Christmas at Rockefeller Center, each pulling in 11.3 million Nov. 30.

Meanwhile, it wasn't a grief-filled Christmas for Charlie Brown. ABC's airing of the classic A Charlie Brown Christmas averaged 8.1 million viewers Dec. 7. Another broadcast Dec. 16 drew 6.4 million.

And good ol' Santa Claus himself came in at No. 4, with ABC's Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town delivering 7.4 million viewers Dec. 2.

At No. 5 was the relatively newer special ABC's Disney Prep & Landing (from 2009), about an elite unit of elves, which averaged 7.6 million viewers Dec. 9.

Below, a sampling of how other new and classic holiday specials (many of which aired more than once) fared this season:

-- Shrek the Halls (ABC), 7.4 million, Nov. 30, and 6.9 million, Dec. 9

-- CMA Country Christmas (ABC), 7.3 million, Nov. 29, and 4.3 million, Dec. 22

-- How the Grinch Stole Christmas (classic cartoon, ABC), 6.9 million, Nov. 30, and 6.2 million, Dec. 23

-- The Santa Clause 3 (ABC), 6.9 million, Dec. 19

-- Dr. Suess' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Jim Carrey movie, ABC), 6.6 million, Dec. 23

-- The Sound of Music (ABC), 6.2 million, Dec. 26

-- SNL Presents: A Very Gilly Christmas (NBC), 6 million, Dec. 21

-- The Santa Clause 2 (ABC), 6 million, Dec. 19, and 3.5 million, Dec. 24

-- Merry Madagascar (NBC), 5.9 million, Nov. 24, and 3.5 million, Nov. 27

-- Kung Fu Panda Holiday (NBC), 5.9 million, Nov. 24, and 3.4 million, Nov. 27

-- I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown! (ABC), 5.6 million, Dec. 14, and 3 million, Dec. 18

-- Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas to You (ABC), 4.9 million, Dec. 13

-- It's a Wonderful Life (NBC), 4.9 million, Dec. 11, and 4.7 million, Dec. 24

-- Yes, Virginia (CBS), 4.8 million, Dec. 17

-- Frosty the Snowman (CBS), 4.5 million, Dec. 10, and 5.6 million, Dec. 17

-- Frosty Returns (CBS), 4.2 million, Dec. 10, and 5.2 million, Dec. 17

-- Rudolph's Shiny New Year (ABC), 4 million, Dec. 28

-- Phineas & Ferb Christmas Vacation (ABC), 2.1 million, Dec. 24