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November 1966: local New York TV station WPIX had nothing to broadcast for 1.5 hours. There wasn’t much on TV during the holidays, so viewers were typically treated to half-hour blocks of nothing. WPIX president Fred Thrower decided to air a “Christmas card.” The “card” would just be burning Yule logs. When WPIX first shot the special, they reportedly burnt a $4,000 rug trying to get a better angle.
The first Yule Log special aired on December 24, 1966. It aired for three hours with no commercials, and the footage itself was only 17 seconds long. WPIX repeatedly looped this footage for the special. The repetition was pretty obvious on tape, so in 1970, it was reshot as a 6-minute loop. The special stopped airing in 1989. With no commercials, it was a financial loss for the network.
In 2016, WPIX brought back the Yule Log special. They’re even selling Yule Log apparel and merchandise. You can find more Yule Logs on services like Netflix and YouTube.
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