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TheStreet Open House

5 Holiday TV Specials We Might Increasingly Tune Out

Stock quotes in this article: CBS, CMCSA, NLSN, TWX

Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town
Debut: 1970
Current network: ABC (with subsequent airings on ABC Family)

Air dates:
2007: ABC Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. Averaged 9.3 million viewers.
2008: ABC Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. Averaged 9 million.
2009: ABC Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. Averaged 7.6 million.
2010: ABC Dec. 2 at 8 p.m Averaged 7.4 million.
2011: ABC Dec. 1 at 8 p.m. Averaged 7.2 million.
2012: ABC Dec. 2 at 8 p.m./Dec. 11 at 8 p.m. Averaged 7.4/5.6 million.

A relative youngster compared with the early entries on this list, this stop-motion Mickey Rooney/Fred Astaire take on Santa's origin story has aged the least gracefully of the bunch.

There are any number of problems that might be at the root of Santa's recent woes. Maybe it's the German dictator that serves as the film's main antagonist. As great as we're sure the name Burgermeister Meisterburger sounded at the time, a totalitarian leader who burns toys and imprisons those possessing them couldn't be more thinly veiled if his name was Rudolph Miffler.

The other issue is that, while just as long as most holiday specials at 51 minutes without commercials, it's dated, uncomfortable musical numbers just make it seem far, far older. It's also never quite made the same connection with audiences as Rudolph and has one foot in that dreaded second tier of holiday programming that includes another Rankin/Bass animated mainstay: Frosty The Snowman. Not only have both Frosty and Santa been relegated to ABC Family's 25 Days Of Christmas lineup with straight-to-video spinoffs and Mario Lopez made-for-TV movies, but when they do show up on networks, it's as a punching bag for newer shows.

Frosty reeled in 6.7 million viewers during his first CBS airing on Nov. 23, but dropped to a paltry 4.1 million on Dec. 8 when other holiday options began cropping up. Santa, meanwhile, spent Dec. 11 having his audience doubled by NBC's The Voice (11.3 million) and more than tripled by NCIS. Don't look to the kids to save Santa, either, as The Voice and NCIS brought in more than two times Santa's viewers ages 18-49. Seriously -- NCIS. One of those CBS initialism shows watched by grandparents and folks in hospital waiting rooms drew more "young" people than Santa Claus.

Holiday purists can keep on believing that Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town somehow has more inherent holiday value or pop culture cachet than a rerun of the 2000 Leslie Nielsen made-for-TV holiday movie Santa Who?, but audiences and ABC beg to differ. While it may take another generation to banish Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town from network television entirely, it looks like this special is becoming as forgotten as Santa's penguin sidekick Topper.

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