Broadcast TV Finds Its Spooky Spirit


With over 2.6 billion dollars 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.

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 “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’s 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.

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, New York 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, Massachusetts was too busy cleaning up their statue of Samantha from Bewitched to comment.

View More Commentary Articles >


  Get RSS Updates: