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5 Holiday TV Specials We Might Increasingly Tune Out

Stocks in this article: CBS CMCSA NLSN TWX

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Debut: 1965
Current network: ABC

Air dates:
2007: Nov. 27 at 8 p.m., Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. Averaged 13.6/8.6 million viewers.
2008: Dec. 8 at 8 p.m., Dec. 16 at 8 p.m. Averaged 11.1/8.4 million.
2009: Dec. 8 at 8 p.m., Dec. 15 at 8 p.m. Averaged 11.2/6.5 million.
2010: Dec. 7 at 8 p.m., Dec. 16 at 8 p.m. Averaged 8.1/6.4 million.
2011: Dec. 7 at 8 p.m.. Dec. 15 at 8 p.m. Averaged 9.1/6.4 million.
2012: Nov. 28 at 8 p.m. Averaged 8.8 million.

Yes, Charlie Brown's numbers aren't much to look at and are drooping lower than an undernourished Christmas twig, but they're still impressive for a show that was never supposed to be.

Peanuts comic strip creator Charles M. Schultz and director Bill Melendez got Coca-Cola (KO) to believe in them when they first pitched the idea of a Peanuts Christmas special, but even their funding wasn't enough to convince the show's original network, CBS, which hated just about everything about it. They hated Linus telling the story of the birth of Jesus, they hated that the voice actors were children who delivered choppy dialogue, they hated Vince Guaraldi's jazz soundtrack, they hated that it didn't have a laugh track.

Even the creators weren't happy with the final product. Coca-Cola's sponsorship wasn't much, so the shoestring budget didn't allow for luxuries such as sound quality and editing time. But all of those elements that were nitpicked then and parodied now are among some of the show's beloved quirks that keep generations coming back.

The first airing of Charlie Brown this year finished third behind CBS' Survivor (10.34 million viewers) and NBC's Christmas in Rockefeller Center tree-lighting special (9.1 million) and ahead of Fox's X Factor (8.1 million). Among adults 18-49, however, Charlie's still No. 1 and keeps earning his Hark, The Herald Angels Sing serenade.

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