How Does TV Promote Halloween? Let Me Count The Ways

At Hulu, the season is known as “Huluween” and at Disney+, it’s Hallowstream.

Food Network’s annual “Halloween Baking Championship” is described on the network’s web site as “a Fab-Boo-Lous time” (italics ours) and “Halloween Wars” is a “ghostly competition” filled with “ghoulish challenges.”

These are just some of the corny, creative (and not so creative) ways in which networks and streamers fill the inboxes of journalists at this “spooktacular” time of year.

Traditionally, “spooktacular” has been the granddaddy of all go-to words appended to Halloween press releases for many years from all over the TV universe.



The word turned up in a press release from Paramount+ ballyhooing the streamer’s “spine-tingling” Halloween content, which consists chiefly of horror movies.

Here, the word “spooktacular” was applied as a noun, as in: “seasonal spooktacular,” instead of “spooktacular season.”

“Chills and thrills” also turned up in the Paramount release, demonstrating that TV’s publicity departments will leave no stone unturned in their quest for overused Halloween words and phrases.

Cliché alert: ABC promises that its upcoming Halloween competition show “The Great Halloween Fright Fight” “will send shivers up your spine!” How does the old writers’ saying go? Avoid clichés like the plague.

A press release from ABC positioned its content this month as “frightfully festive,” including a special edition of “Shark Tank” airing on Friday, October 27, that is being billed as “Shark-O-Ween.” 

Halloween is big business, so it is easy to understand why TV is climbing aboard the trick-or-treat bandwagon. 

Halloween spending is expected to reach $12.2 billion this season, up from last year’s $10.6 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.

When it comes to “Spook-tober” (another made-up word that comes up at this time of year), the greatest volume of Halloween content is generally on basic cable networks such as Food Network.

Owned by Warner Bros. Discovery, Food Network fills its days and evenings at this time of year with Halloween baking competitions and elaborate pumpkin-carving competitions such as “Outrageous Pumpkins,” which started its fourth season on September 24.

However, some networks and streaming services are absent from the Halloween fray, possibly because in the case of scripted made-for-TV movies and specials, none are available just now due to the just-ended writers’ strike.

Searches on the press web sites for networks and services such as NBC, Peacock, CBS and Netflix reveal no new Halloween content this month.

In 2021, Netflix issued a press release on a whole slew of Halloween-themed content. The clever tagline: “Netflix and chills.”

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