6:45am PT by Rick Porter
Holiday TV: 88 Specials, Series and Movies to Watch and Stream
Peak TV has come for the holidays.
With a Christmas movie arms race between Hallmark and Lifetime (and, to a degree, Netflix), a host of new and annual specials and several original series, the formerly dead spot on the TV calendar between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve will be awash with new programming.
It's either a bounty (the cheerful, hang-more-mistletoe view) or too much to take (the miserly, Grinchian view). But it's here — and has been for some time. Like retailers that put up Christmas decorations before Halloween, Hallmark and Lifetime have been airing Christmas movies since October, but the output will go to new levels in the coming weeks.
Below is The Hollywood Reporter's rundown of holiday programming between now and Dec. 31. Aside from the "Classics" section below, all programs are original. Holiday episodes of regular series aren't included. All times are ET/PT unless noted.
Classics and Perennials
Some of the shows on this list have been airing for more than half a century. Of note this year: Animated staples Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman will have their first-ever cable airings on Freeform on Dec. 6, a few days after their initial runs on CBS.
• A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, 8 p.m. Nov. 27, ABC
• Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, 9 a.m. (in all time zones) Nov. 28, NBC
• The National Dog Show, noon (in all time zones) Nov. 28, NBC
• Frosty the Snowman, 8 p.m. Nov. 29, CBS
• Frosty Returns, 8:30 p.m. Nov. 29 CBS
• Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, 8 p.m. Nov. 29, The CW
• It's a Wonderful Life, 8 p.m. Nov. 30, NBC (encores Dec. 14 and 24 on USA and Dec. 25 on NBC)
• Robbie the Reindeer: Hooves of Fire and Robbie the Reindeer: Legend of the Lost Tribe, 8 p.m. Nov. 30, CBS
• Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, 8 p.m. Dec. 1, ABC
• Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, 8 p.m. Dec. 2, CBS
• How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 8 p.m. Dec. 3, NBC
• Christmas in Rockefeller Center, 8 p.m. Dec. 4, NBC
• A Charlie Brown Christmas, 8 p.m. Dec. 5, ABC
• Olaf's Frozen Adventure, 8 p.m. Dec. 12, ABC
• Toy Story That Time Forgot, 8:30 p.m. Dec. 12, ABC
• The 88th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade, 8 p.m. Dec. 13, The CW
• Kennedy Center Honors, 8 p.m. Dec. 15, CBS
• Shrek the Halls, 8 p.m. Dec. 17, ABC
• Disney Prep & Landing, 8 p.m. Dec. 19, ABC
• A Home for the Holidays, 8 p.m. Dec. 22, CBS
A pair of scripted comedies — Netflix's Merry Happy Whatever and Fox's The Moodys — join several holiday-themed competitions on the list.
• Wrap Battle, 9 p.m. Nov. 25, Freeform
• Merry Happy Whatever, Nov. 28, Netflix
• Top Elf, 8 p.m. Nov. 29, Nickelodeon
• The Great Christmas Light Fight, 8 p.m. Dec. 2, ABC
• Making It, 10 p.m. Dec. 2-5 and 9-10, 9 p.m. Dec. 11, NBC
• The Moodys, 9 p.m. Dec. 4, 9 and 10, Fox
• Ellen's Greatest Night of Giveaways, 8 p.m. Dec. 10-12, NBC
Lots of carols, a host of celebrity guests, some fake snow and a sizable helping of cheese are key ingredients to a good holiday special.
• Wonderful World of Disney Magical Holiday Celebration, 8 p.m. Nov. 28, ABC
• Outrageous Holiday Houses, 11 p.m. Nov. 28, HGTV
• The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show, Nov. 29, Amazon
• How to Train Your Dragon Homecoming, 8:30 p.m. Dec. 3, NBC
• CMA Country Christmas, 9 p.m. Dec. 3, ABC
• Disney Channel Holiday Party, 8 p.m. Dec. 13, ABC
• Trolls Holiday, 8:30 p.m. Dec. 14, NBC
• Holidays With the Houghs, 10 p.m. Dec. 16, NBC
• The Year: 2019, 9 p.m. Dec. 22, ABC
• Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade, 10 a.m. ET, 9 a.m. in other time zones, Dec. 25, ABC
Holiday Food Shows
The Food Network already has several holiday-themed competition shows on air. Several others, both there and on other outlets, join the fray in the coming weeks.
• Santa's Baking Blizzard, 9 p.m. Nov. 28, Food Network
• Sugar Rush Christmas, Nov. 29, Netflix
• Holiday Wars, 9 p.m. Dec 1, Food Network
• Holiday Gingerbread Showdown, 10 p.m. Dec. 1, Food Network
• The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition, 9 p.m. Dec. 12, ABC
This list of 42 films only includes movies that are premiering this season. Christmas-movie behemoths Hallmark and Lifetime have built up libraries large enough that at any point over the next several weeks, a viewer could watch between 20 and 22 hours of holiday movies per day on either channel. Lifetime is even running double features on Saturdays in December.
• Check Inn to Christmas, 8 p.m. Nov. 26, Hallmark
• The Christmas Club, 8 p.m. Nov. 27, Hallmark
• A Very Vintage Christmas, 8 p.m. Nov. 27, Lifetime
• Holiday Rush, Nov. 28, Netflix
• Christmas at the Plaza, 8 p.m. Nov. 28, Hallmark
• A Christmas Wish, 8 p.m. Nov. 28, Lifetime
• Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy, 8 p.m. Nov. 29, Hallmark
• Staging Christmas, 8 p.m. Nov. 29, Lifetime
• Sense, Sensibility & Snowmen, 9 p.m. Nov. 29, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
• Christmas in Rome, 8 p.m. Nov. 30, Hallmark
• Merry Liddle Christmas, 8 p.m. Nov. 30, Lifetime
• Christmas Chalet, 7 p.m. Dec. 1, UP TV
• Christmas Town, 8 p.m. Dec. 1, Hallmark
• You Light Up My Christmas, 8 p.m. Dec. 1, Lifetime
• Ghosting: The Spirit of Christmas, 9 p.m. Dec. 4, Freeform
• A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby, Dec. 5, Netflix
• Same Time, Next Christmas, 9 p.m. Dec. 5, ABC (encore Dec. 11 on Freeform)
• A Storybook Christmas, 8 p.m. Dec. 6, Lifetime
• Mistletoe & Menorahs, 6 p.m. Dec. 7, Lifetime
• A Christmas Love Story, 8 p.m. Dec. 7, Hallmark (Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation)
• Christmas Unleashed, 8 p.m. Dec. 7, Lifetime
• Christmas in Paris, 7 p.m. Dec. 8, UP TV
• Christmas at Dollywood, 8 p.m. Dec. 8, Hallmark
• Grounded for Christmas, 8 p.m. Dec. 8, Lifetime
• Christmas Stars, 8 p.m. Dec. 13, Lifetime
• Matchmaker Christmas, 6 p.m. Dec. 14, Lifetime
• Holiday Date, 8 p.m. Dec. 14, Hallmark
• A Christmas Winter Song, 8 p.m. Dec. 14, Lifetime
• Snowbound for Christmas, 7 p.m. Dec. 15, UP TV
• A Cheerful Christmas, 8 p.m. Dec. 15, Hallmark
• Rediscovering Christmas, 8 p.m. Dec. 15, Lifetime
• A Christmas Carol, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19, FX
• The Christmas Temp, 8 p.m. Dec. 20, Lifetime
• Christmas Love Letter, 6 p.m. Dec. 21, Lifetime
• It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, 8 p.m. Dec. 21, Hallmark
• Christmas Hotel, 8 p.m. Dec. 21, Lifetime
• Christmas Wedding Runaway, 7 p.m. Dec. 22, UP TV
• Double Holiday, 8 p.m. Dec. 22, Hallmark
• A Date by Christmas Eve, 8 p.m. Dec. 22, Lifetime
• Baby in a Manger, 7 p.m. Dec. 24, UP TV
• When Calls the Heart: Home for Christmas, 8 p.m. Dec. 25, Hallmark
• A New Year's Resolution, 8 p.m. Dec. 28, Hallmark
Thanksgiving features an NFL tripleheader, and five NBA games are scheduled for Christmas Day. College football's bowl season also kicks into gear in the second half of December.
• Thanksgiving NFL: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions, 12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT, Fox; Buffalo Bills at Dallas Cowboys, 4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 PT, CBS; New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons, 8:15 p.m. ET/5:15 PT, NBC.
• Christmas NBA: Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors, noon ET/9 a.m. PT, ESPN; Milwaukee Bucks at Philadelphia 76ers, 2:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. PT, ABC; Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors, 5 p.m. ET/2 PT, ABC; Los Angeles Clippers vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 8 p.m. ET/5 PT, ABC/ESPN; New Orleans Pelicans at Denver Nuggets, 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 PT, ESPN.
• College football: Between Dec. 20 and Dec. 31, 31 bowl games will be contested, including the two semifinal matchups in the College Football Playoff on Dec. 28.
New Year's Eve
The final night of the year is one of the bigger TV-viewing nights, with specials marking the turn of the calendar on multiple networks.
• ABC gives over the whole night (save for late local news) to its annual Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, starting at 8 p.m. and continuing till well past midnight.
• Anderson Cooper has hosted CNN's New Year's Eve coverage since the early 2000s. It, too, runs for several hours straight.
• Fox will once again have Steve Harvey hosting from New York's Times Square for two hours in primetime and 90 more minutes starting at 11 p.m.
• NBC will offer up its year-end special A Toast to 2019 at 8 p.m., followed by the NBC New Year's Eve Special at 10 and 11:30 p.m.