Sales Office by Don Seaman

Broadcast TV Finds Its Spooky Spirit

It’s not hard to figure out why TV loves Halloween as a theme. It’s visual, it’s got great storylines and viewers love the escapism of it all. Halloween is great fun, which is exactly why it’s great TV. Halloween is big on TV. Scary big. It always has been. The Simpsons’ “Treehouse of Horror” turns 24 this year. It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is 47. And each remains a stalwart of October viewing.

With more than $2.6 billion in annual sales, Halloween is big business in the United States. That puts it second to only Christmas in terms of dollars spent for one event. It’s the third biggest party night of the year, behind only New Year’s Eve and the Super Bowl.

It’s not hard to figure out why TV loves Halloween as a theme. It’s visual, it’s got great storylines and viewers love the escapism of it all. Halloween is great fun, which is exactly why it’s great TV.

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Television not going to be scared off by a few ghosts and goblins. On the contrary — Halloween is big on TV. Scary big. It always has been. The Simpsons’ “Treehouse of Horror” turns 24 this year. It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is 47. And each remains a stalwart of October viewing.

Furthermore, any series worth its salt has its writers open up their bag of tricks for an annual Halloween-themed episode. Witness Claire Dunphy’s over-the-top Halloween stylings on Modern Family for what happens to otherwise “normal” people when it comes to Halloween.

A quick look at the broadcast schedule will tell you that horror isn’t just a made-for-October genre anymore. Fox’s Sleepy Hollow is one of the big success stories of the new season. NBC’s Dracula recently gave the character a broadcast reboot. Then there are more new vampires of The Originals, and old vampires of Vampire Diaries, not to mention Supernatural, Grimm, Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Time In Wonderland — the genre is well covered these days.

Oh, and The Following comes back in January.

Brand Connections

That’s right, there may be two cable shows that are making some noise in Walking Dead and American Horror Story. Otherwise, cable struggles to scare up many legions of demographics, whether they’re living, dead, or undead.

So really, paranormal is the new normal on broadcast TV.

The success of Sleepy Hollow is actually having a ripple effect in the real world — the tiny town of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., has gotten a big tourism boost thanks to the show.

And these spooky themes aren’t going away anytime soon. TV’s connection to Halloween runs too deep for that. CBS is even considering a reboot of the deceased WB’s witch-centric Charmed. An overworked representative from the Chamber of Commerce of Salem, Mass., was too busy cleaning up its statue of Samantha from Bewitched to comment.

All about sales and advertising, Sales Office appears in TVNewsCheck through the cooperation of TVB, which solicits the columns from its staff and members. Seaman is TVB's manager, marketing communications. To see all the columns in the series, click here.


Comments (2) -

RustbeltAlumnus2 Nickname posted over 3 years ago
And broadcasting turns 107 on Christmas Eve, if you start the clock with Reginald Fessenden. Easily old enough for some Smucker's jelly on the Today Show. Way overdue to retire (broadcasting).
Insider Nickname posted over 3 years ago
You continue to totally miss the difference in Broadcasting and Narrowcasting. Unlike yourself, 107 does not mean your life is over. There is no "sell by" date on Broadcasting.
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Overnights, adults 18-49 for September 28, 2016
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Source: Nielsen


  • Rob Owen

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