It seems hard to imagine now, but in the early days of television, the idea of a TV channel marathoning the same show for hours on end was unthinkable. Despite what was known as "syndication," the licensing of second run airings of particularly popular TV series from the 1970s onward, the idea of running one program, or one movie for hours was not done. TV broadcast heads assumed viewers at home wouldn't stand for such a thing. And then, one day in 1997, A Christmas Story changed everything. As is now tradition, the TBS’ Christmas Day 2019 movie schedule will once again be back to back airing of the classic holiday film.
Not that Turner Broadcasting just one day out of the blue decided to air A Christmas Story over and over on Christmas day. The channel built up to it. It was, at first, a Thanksgiving holiday tradition in the late 1980s, which then slowly moved down the schedule to Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day. By the mid-1990s, A Christmas Story would air several times over those three days, though not back to back.
And then, in 1997, someone decided to go whole hog and air "24 hours of A Christmas Story." The marathon would start at 8 p.m. ET on Christmas Eve, and the film, which ran a perfect two hour block with commercials, would run 12 times over the next 24 hours, ending at 8 p.m. on Christmas day. And thus, a tradition was born.
This year marks 22 years since that historic first airing of AS Christmas Story back to back 12 times in a row, and TBS shows no sign of ending the tradition anytime soon.
On Christmas Eve, the channel will spend all day airing Christmas-themed episodes of TV.
- 5 a.m. - 7 a.m. ET Everybody Loves Raymond Christmas episodes
- 8 a.m. - 10 a.m. ET Seinfeld Christmas episodes
- 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. ET Friends Christmas episodes
- 3 p.m. - 6 p.m. ET Bob's Burgers Christmas episodes
- 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. ET The Big Bang Theory Christmas episodes
And then, like clockwork, at 8 p.m. ET on Christmas eve, the 24 hours of A Christmas Story marathon begins. It will not end until 8 p.m. the next day.
When the marathon is over, TBS will go back to The Big Bang Theory, though these are not holiday-themed episodes, just regular ones. Christmas is over, after all.