Last year the TV, eh? online auction raised $6800 for Kids Help Phone, a free, anonymous and confidential phone and on-line professional counselling service for youth. A huge thank you to all donors, bidders, winners, and those who helped spread the word.
I’m now planning this year’s auction for late June and am seeking great TV-related prizes to put up for bid. Please contact me at email@example.com if you can help. If you donated last year, I’ll be knocking at your e-door shortly.
Thanks, and stay tuned for more details.
Scott Henderson, Vice-President, Communications, Bell Media, was not happy with my post daring Canadian networks to walk the talk. In fact, he was “shocked and disappointed” in me. I promised him space on this site to respond to my post, and I’ve contacted Shaw to see if they’d like equal opportunity … though Shaw may be wiser than to try to prolong the issue.
Here’s Bell’s response, with my annotated response to their response. (I obviously didn’t and would never promise not to express my own opinion about anything I publish to my site, especially if it’s twisting my words, unless it’s paid advertising.)
Diane Wild dares Canadian broadcasters to “walk the talk” when it comes to promoting Canadian programming. Well I double-dare her back: start recognizing the widespread promotion that already occurs on a regular basis and as a matter of course.
[Diane: I post every media release Bell sends me related to their Canadian series verbatim to my site, do interviews with writers and actors involved in the series, praise the series I like, and I acknowledged in that Walk the Talk post, as well as at the time of their premieres, that Motive and Orphan Black were given excellent launches. If Bell and the other networks would fund my efforts to do more, I would be happy to do more.]
In her blog post “A dare to Canadian broadcasters: Walk the talk” (May 4), Wild strongly suggests, using Bell Media as her primary example, that Canadian broadcasters do not “demonstrate a true desire to succeed with their Canadian shows.” The accusation is unfair, unfounded, and frankly, insulting.
[Diane: I’ll say more about this later, when they make unfair, unfounded, and frankly, insulting claims about my piece.]
Normally, we don’t respond to such allegations. We stand by our promotion of all of our Canadian content. Our production partners respect the support we provide to their productions, and viewers respond by watching.
[Diane: I’m sure they do. My opinions are my own however my inbox and twitter feed suggests not everyone in the industry respects your support.]
Beginning in 2003/4, when we helped change the landscape of quality Canadian productions with the debuts of Canadian Idol and Corner Gas, and later Flashpoint, so too did our attention to effectively promote Canadian productions.
But enough is enough. Ten years later, it is time to dispel the myth that Canadian broadcasters casually throw original productions onto the air, cross their fingers, and hope that they stick with audiences.
[Diane: That’s not what I said. In fact I said the opposite about Motive and Orphan Black.]
In the post, Wild points to two very specific examples – the smoking guns – to support her claim that Bell Media is not providing even “basic support to their Canadian content”: 1) that recent media releases from Bell Media did not feature episodic descriptions for upcoming episodes of Orphan Black and Motive; and 2) that similar episodic information, and even general promotion, was unavailable on Space.ca and CTV.ca. More on that in a moment.
As Wild rightfully gives credit for the resources that were dedicated to launching these two series, both of which have become hits and been recently renewed for second seasons, we won’t recap their incredible launch campaigns.
The thrust of Wild’s argument is that Bell Media is asleep at the wheel, providing no sustained promotional support for these programs. In the case of Motive, she suggests CTV has “no other original series to promote right now,” so they should be “aggressively promoting what they have.”
[Diane: I didn’t say there was no sustained promotional support. I made very specific and supported claims about basic promotional efforts which Bell is now unfairly, unfounded-ly, and frankly, insulting-ly expanding into something I didn’t say.]
Well, let me tell you how CTV is promoting Motive on a weekly basis:
- Each week, CTV cuts 15 and 30-second Motive episodic on-air promos that air in healthy rotation to millions of viewers on CTV and other channels.
- Other Motive on-air promotional elements, such as “bumpers” and “snipes”, are utilized each week, including, lower-third on-air banners during select NHL regular season and play-off games on TSN.
- Following its Super Bowl stunt launch, CTV aired Motive on-air promos in additional big-event television broadcasts, including The Oscars, The Junos, and The Golden Globe Awards.
- Motive “pre-roll” promos run before programs are streamed online, and custom Motive banner ads are presented across Bell Media websites.
- Meanwhile, CTV.ca has published 17 articles about Motive.
- Every Thursday, CTV’s Etalk teases each new Motive episode, reaching three quarters of a million viewers on average.
- Last Thursday, CTV distributed an episodic e-mail blast promoting that night’s Motive broadcast to hundreds of thousands of web subscribers.
- Each new episode is live-tweeted by @CTV_Television, while new episodes of Motive are pushed to CTV Twitter and Facebook followers. The #Motive hashtag is burned on-screen during each broadcast to encourage social media chatter.
- Following the launch campaign, Motive has been promoted with radio and outdoor advertising, including, for almost fourth months, the most prominent billboard in Toronto at Yonge-Dundas Square (pictured).
- CTV actively builds the profile of Motive stars at public events, including the CSA Fan Zone event in March, and the Heart Truth fashion show.
- And CTV has continued to pitch journalists across the country on additional Motive coverage, even after securing more than 200 media hits for its launch. Another wave of publicity is expected for next week’s season finale.
[Diane: That’s genuinely terrific. None of this contradicts the post, which is about specific public declarations and basic PR actions in a specific timeframe. And why are none of these episode-specific promotions available on the series' website - as in CTV.ca/Motive - or provided to websites as embeddable videos? I should add that the @MotiveTV twitter account couldn’t answer my question of what episode was airing 2 days before it aired – the message to me was “check the website tomorrow”. Which I did and the information or an episode-specific promo still wasn’t on the show's homepage.]
The result? Averaging 1.1 million viewers each week, Motive is the #1 new Canadian series of the 2012/13 broadcast year, and the most-watched Canadian drama in the key selling demos. Undoubtedly, our efforts are working.
And to be clear, Motive’s ratings were not sagging “amid the killer competition” on Sunday nights, nor are they showing “troubling signs of softness that can be strengthened with consistency and promotion” on Thursday nights. Motive delivered 1.093 million viewers on Sundays (winning its timeslot on conventional television), and is now delivering 1.071 million on Thursdays (holding its own against U.S. simulcasts).
[Diane: Using ratings averages over the course of the season obfuscates the point. Here’s what I’m founding my opinion about ratings on. Numbers from BBM Canada where available, Bill Brioux’s overnight numbers where not:
Episode 1, February 3 (post-Super Bowl slot) - 1.229 million
Episode 2, February 10: 814,000
Episode 3, February 17: 1.012 million
Episode 4, March 3: 929,000
Episode 5, March 10: 630,000 (this is what I refer to as sagging “amid the killer competition”)
Episode 6, March 14: 807,000 (first Thursday airing)
Episode 7, March 21: 1.202 million (what I refer to as recovering from the understandable timeslot switch dip)
Episode 8, March 28: 1.062 million
Episode 9, April 4: 1.011 million
Episode 10, April 25: 835,000 (this is what I refer to as sagging after reruns – and I ask myself why, in a 13-episode season, were there reruns mid-season?)
Episode 11, May 2: No ratings available]
Following a $4 million promotional campaign to launch Orphan Black, comparable tactics to the Motive campaign are employed by our Specialty division each week in promoting this hot new Space series. Similarly to how Etalk is used to promote Canadian programs, Space’s daily information series Innerspace has reported 15 stories on Orphan Black, in addition to a half-hour special. On social media, Space live tweets each episode. After securing more than 200 media hits so far, Space continues to pitch media, including TV, Eh?, which ran a story on April 24. We also arranged for series’ stars to appear at genre fan expos in both Toronto and Calgary.
[Diane: Again, that has nothing to do with the point in that post. Also, TV, eh? was pitched post-launch because we were mistakenly not pitched for the launch, which is fine but don't count that as a win.]
And as an example of Kevin Crull’s efforts to duplicate the Quebec star system, we shone the spotlight on Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany when CTV flew her to Regina to be a presenter on The 2013 Juno Awards. After being interviewed by dozens of journalists on the Juno Awards red carpet, she was then introduced to 1.9 million viewers on the CTV broadcast.
[Diane: She’s amazing. Nothing to do with my post, and it was the Montreal Gazette who said he didn't offer a plan about the star system, not me, but she’s amazing.]
But back to Wild’s original concerns: that she couldn’t obtain episodic descriptions for either Motive or Orphan Black via the May “monthly highlight” press releases from CTV and Space. In the case of Motive, the press release was issued a day late, and, as indicated by Wild, excluded Motive information for that particular week. However, it included descriptions for the rest of the month – hardly the coming of a promotional apocalypse as described.
[Diane: I did not describe a coming promotional apocalypse. I made a joke about a zombie vs clone apocalypse, as a “fun” intro to highlight that the Space programming highlight release revealed episode descriptions about a zombie movie and a serialized zombie show but not the serialized clone show. I'm not saying I'm a comedy writer or anything, but zombie apocalypses are kind of a thing.]
In the case of Orphan Black, the program is a serialized drama, and therefore a decision was made to exclude spoiler episodic information, but rather reinforce the timeslot in the release. As Wild notes, the information continues to be available on Bell Media’s media site, the go-to information source for media. We continue to evaluate our strategy in imparting this type information to media on a week-to-week basis.
[Diane: It would have been good to inform the media that episode descriptions would now only be available on the media site and provide the direct link to the media kit where the information resides. It also would have been good to include the next episode description at least, especially given the fact that it was available on the BBC America website. I was not the only media to note the absence. This was part of my point – the scrambling to find information that should be provided in a consistent way. Especially in a week when you're publicly touting your promotions. There's also that week where it was going to be a rerun but ended up being new.]
The suggestion that Motive and Orphan Black are not promoted on CTV.ca or Space.ca is dumbfounding. As mentioned, both series are featured in their respective sites’ promotional “marquees” (the rotating carousel of featured upcoming programming), driving to each week’s broadcast. Further, both series are featured in leaderboard ads that appear on their respective sites.
[Diane: I am dumbfounded that Mr. Henderson thinks I said Motive and Orphan Black are not promoted at all on CTV.ca or Space.ca. I said besides not having the usual programming highlights media releases, the show websites that week – which happened to be the week Henderson spoke at the Academy and Crull was quoted in the Montreal Gazette -- did not have information on whether that week’s episode was new, what the episode was called or about or who the guest stars were, or have an episode-specific promo on the page. This is very basic promotional support and was not provided in a week where senior executives were speaking about their promotional efforts.]
[Diane: Not on the series homepage, as I said. It is posted this week, so perhaps I'm not so misguided in suggesting that should be a basic promotional activity?]
On the Orphan Black web page, episodic descriptions have previously pushed to post-broadcast, online, on-demand streaming. Moving forward, we intend to feature each week’s upcoming episodic description on Space.ca.
Sadly, in today’s age of social media, it is apparently easier to lob cheap accusations on Twitter and publish sardonic blog posts, then pick up the phone to call a PR professional for information. With one quick phone call (or e-mail), this information would have been provided. But rather, Bell Media is accused of hiding our original programs “in witness protection” and “protecting them from prying eyes.”
[Diane: My point is not boo hoo I didn’t get the information, it’s that forcing media and the audience to dig for the information or be pro-active in getting that information is not good promotion. I could have called you Wednesday night when I realized I didn't have the Motive description yet, but that doesn't mean I would have shut up about what should be done better to promote episodes of the show. And given that I don't get paid to run TV, eh? -- networks do not purchase advertising on TV, eh? to promote their shows -- I did not make the phone call.]
Most offensive is the blog’s positioning of our alleged anti-promo agenda under the big, dark, cloak of “Bell”, as if the people working at Bell Media were nameless, faceless, corporate drones.
[Diane: It’s disingenuous to believe anyone could write a post without referring to the corporate entity by name. I referred to the specific names of people who I feel bear the ultimate responsibility for resourcing and PR direction, including Mr. Henderson, and who have been public about the challenges of promotion. I deliberately did not name the specific CTV/Space PR people I deal with who are accommodating and helpful, and have no way of naming -- nor would I -- the specific person responsible for not updating the show websites or sending out a timely programming media release or operating the MotiveTV twitter account.]
There are hundreds and hundreds of people who walk into Bell Media each day with the sole purpose and desire of developing, producing, and promoting the best Canadian TV possible. We are the development execs who embrace scripts, assemble talent, and guide production. We are the editors who figure out the best way to promote each week’s episode in 15-30 seconds. We are the schedulers who research, explore, and assess the best timeslot possible. We are the creative directors who conceptualize photo shoots to execute the perfect print ad. We are the lawyers and accountants who find amazingly creative means to finance production. We are the programmers who make heartbreaking decisions about which programs to put on air. We are the graphic designers who produce clever press kits. And we are the publicists – the most in the country – whose primary focus is the promotion of Canadian TV. That’s who “Bell” is.
While the cynicism inherent in Wild’s “dare” to Canadian broadcasters is deeply troubling, the overall allegation is simply illogical. Why would Canadian broadcasters let Canadian productions flounder on their own, after investing so much energy, resources, time, and, without a doubt, heart?
Vice-President, Communications, Bell Media
[Diane: The cynical answer? A significant reason Canadian broadcasters invest energy, resources and time into Canadian productions is that it’s a condition of their license from the CRTC. Do they invest more than the minimum required by their licence and by benefits package spending? I wish the breakdown of those numbers were publicly available but signs point to no.
Another cynical answer? Why would Bell rerun and not promote Motive regularly now? The US broadcast partner will pick up some of the ongoing promotional burden. CTV is rerunning Motive season one in simulcast with the ABC airing starting the week after the (to-be-promoted) CTV finale. Coincidental timing, or planned to flow directly into the US airing by adding the reruns mid-season? Mr. Henderson didn’t counter my point about Crull’s comments on regular timeslots. Why the timeslot change and reruns, if not the Sunday competition and to time the end of CTV’s run with the US premiere?
Why in the past has The Listener been bounced around the CTV schedule? To make room for US shows in simulcast.
So yes, I’m cynical about the value and support Canadian broadcasters put into Canadian content. TV, eh? is my effort to support the Canadian television industry, and my opinion means nothing if it doesn’t include examining what it needs to do better as well as what it gets right. I post what they do right in their own words regularly through their media releases, as well as in my own posts, tweets and podcasts.
I’m cynical, too, because the only time I’ve ever heard directly from a Bell VP of Communications in the years I've been helping promote their Canadian content is to scold me about my opinion that they need to do more to support Canadian content.]
From a media release:
THE BLECHERS ARE BACK FOR THE FINAL SEASON OF AWARD-WINNING CANADIAN COMEDY LESS THAN KIND ON JUNE 2 ON HBO CANADA
- Free sampling of Season 3 finale and Season 4 premiere begins Sunday, May 19 across all platforms
HBO Canada, a multiplex channel of Corus Entertainment’s Movie Central (Western Canada) and Astral’s The Movie Network (Eastern Canada), heads back to Winnipeg for a bittersweet summer of turmoil and goodbyes in this fourth and final season of the award-winning, half-hour original comedy series, Less Than Kind. Opening with two back-to-back episodes on Sunday, June 2 at 8 p.m. ET/MT, nothing is certain but change for the quirky Blechers in this season of milestones and mishaps. Following its debut, new episodes premiere in their regular time slot, Sundays at 8:30 p.m. ET/MT on HBO Canada.
“We are so happy to bring the Blechers back for the fourth and concluding chapter of Less Than Kind,” said executive producer, writer and showrunner Mark McKinney. “The series has been blessed by an amazing cast that only grew stronger and funnier each season. This season’s storyline brings their characters’ journeys to a very satisfying finish. And we are thrilled to be bringing it to HBO Canada where so many great original Canadian shows have thrived.”
On the heels of recognition at the WGC Awards, Canadian Screen Awards, and Canadian Comedy Awards, including top honours as Best Comedy at the inaugural Canadian Screen Awards, season 4 of Less Than Kind draws to a close during a period of transition for the Blechers. Anne’s (Wendel Meldrum, in her Canadian Screen Award winning role) anxiety is rising at the looming loss of Sheldon (Jesse Camacho) to a gap-year adventure and to the advances of employee Jim Sheridan (Nicholas Campbell). Newly engaged Josh (Benjamin Arthur) pursues a career at Manitoba Labels in order to move out, move up and start his own family with the increasingly demanding Shandra (Lisa Anne Durupt). Aunt Clara (Nancy Sorel) finds herself facing the harsh prospect of unwelcome spinsterhood. As for the loveable trio of youngsters – Sheldon, Miriam (Brooke Palsson) and Danny (Tyler Johnston) – their relationships will be strained to the breaking point by a series of tumultuous events. Life will never be the same again for the Blechers. And that might not be bad.
Season 4 of the series features a distinctly Canadian soundtrack with music from the legendary Bruce Cockburn, Jon Bryant, Gloryhound and Imaginary Cities, among others.
Sneak Preview Available On All Platforms
The Movie Network and Movie Central are offering subscribers and non-subscribers a chance to sample the finale episode of Less Than Kind season 3, as well as the first episode from season 4. Beginning Sunday, May 19, Canadians can watch free-of-charge on www.hbocanada.com, via the free On Demand and Online services of participating television providers as well as on TMN GO in Eastern Canada.
In Eastern Canada, the series will be available in High Definition, on demand, on TMN GO, and on HBO Canada OnLine.
In Western Canada, the series will be available in High Definition on HBO Canada HD; on demand, via mobile and online with participating service providers.
From a media release:
On Your Mark, Get Set, Go! CTV Sets Amazing Summer Lineup
- Canadians get in the game with the premiere of THE AMAZING RACE CANADA, July 15
- New CTV comedy SATISFACTION couples begins June 24
- Fan favourite THE LISTENER returns for its fourth gripping season, May 29
- Last summer’s #1 drama SAVING HOPE returns June 25
It’s shaping up to be an eh-mazing summer on CTV as the network unveiled the first wave of its summer lineup today. As announced yesterday, Canada’s must-see reality TV program of the year anchors a new must-see Monday lineup on CTV as adventure-seekers across the country go head-to-head on THE AMAZING RACE CANADA (@AmazingRaceCDA). With new programs still to be announced, CTV’s summer schedule already features a lineup of returning hits such as SAVING HOPE (@SavingHopeTV) and THE LISTENER (@listenertv), along with the premiere of the all-new comedy SATISFACTION (@SatisfactionTV), as well as encore broadcasts of this season’s newest hit MOTIVE (@MotiveTV).
CTV’s new Monday night destination lineup kicks off the week with laughs and thrills starting with the debut of SATISFACTION (June 24), a hilarious exploration of romantic woes and wins, life crises, and personal ambitions starring a sexy young cast. Mondays will then thrill audiences as THE AMAZING RACE CANADA starts to make its way to the finish line.
Dramas hitting the summer schedule on CTV include the return of CTV’s hit original series THE LISTENER (May 29), back for an action-packed fourth season, as telepath Toby Logan (Craig Olejnik) goes up against increasingly dangerous criminals. As well, last summer’s most-watched drama series SAVING HOPE (June 25), starring Erica Durance, Michael Shanks, and Daniel Gillies, joins the Tuesday lineup for its highly-anticipated second season.
Completing CTV’s unstoppable summer lineup is MOTIVE (May 20), the #1 new Canadian series of the 2012/2013 broadcast season, which returns with encore presentations in simulcast with ABC.
SATISFACTION – Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CTV beginning June 24
CTV original comedy SATISFACTION takes a humorous look at a group of friends who are completely uninhibited as they share their relationship woes and romantic wins, life crises, and personal ambitions. Dedicated single man Mark (Ryan Belleville, THE L.A. COMPLEX) hustles the dating scene while his best friends and long-term couple Jason (Luke MacFarlane, BROTHERS & SISTERS) and Maggie (Leah Renee, BLUE MOUNTAIN STATE) work at keeping the sparks flying as they face the day-to-day challenges of being in a committed relationship.
THE AMAZING RACE CANADA – Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV beginning July 15
Get ready for the race of the summer! THE AMAZING RACE CANADA is set to give Canadians the opportunity to race around Canada and discover the country they love in a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Teams will race to the finish line, criss-crossing up to 9,000 kilometres. A stunning depiction of the Canadian fabric, the teams will travel through both the country’s urban centres as well as the most remote outposts in the land, all while exploring its broad cultural and ethnic diversity, wildlife, and iconic landmarks.
THE LISTENER – Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CTV beginning May 29
Season 4 of CTV’s hit original series THE LISTENER, sees telepathic former paramedic Toby Logan (Craig Olejnik, The Timekeeper) working hard to sharpen his police skills, as he becomes involved in the Integrated Investigative Bureau’s (IIB) cases as a Special Consultant. His personal life also heats up as he deepens his relationship with crime reporter Tia Tremblay (Melanie Scrofano, BEING ERICA), who is inexplicably the one person he can’t read. Life will be no less dramatic for Toby’s colleagues, as Sgt. Michelle McCluskey (Lauren Lee Smith, CSI) navigates a complicated marriage with her husband, and IIB head Alvin Klein (Peter Stebbings, MADISON) attempts to protect himself and his team from the political manoeuvrings of the ambitious new police superintendent Nichola Martell (Ingrid Kavelaars, LIVING IN YOUR CAR). Meanwhile, new director of emergency services Oz Bey (Ennis Esmer, THE L.A. COMPLEX) realizes that being the boss isn’t as easy as he thought it would be.
MOTIVE – Airs Monday, May 20 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, moves to Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV beginning May 23
MOTIVE, the #1 new Canadian series of the 2012/2013 broadcast season joins the summer schedule, with encore presentations airing in simulcast with ABC. The CTV hit original series is a captivating one-hour crime drama that follows spirited female homicide detective Angie Flynn on a backwards chase for clues to a killer that has already been revealed to viewers. An unconventional way to watch a crime unfold, the “whydunit” stars Kristin Lehman (THE KILLING), Gemini Award-winning Louis Ferreira (SGU STARGATE UNIVERSE), and Lauren Holly (NCIS).
SAVING HOPE – Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CTV beginning June 25
Last summer’s #1 Canadian drama SAVING HOPE returns for a compelling second season with former Chief of Surgery, Dr. Charlie Harris (Michael Shanks, STARGATE SG-1) awake from his coma and reunited with his fiancée Dr. Alex Reid (Erica Durance, SMALLVILLE). This season, Alex and the other doctors of Hope Zion Hospital – including Alex’s ex-boyfriend, Dr. Joel Goran (Daniel Gillies, VAMPIRE DIARIES) – continue to handle gripping medical cases full of twists and turns, while Charlie struggles with a secret that could jeopardize his career and his relationship with Alex: he can still see and communicate with ghosts. Gemini-nominated actor Jason Priestley (CALL ME FITZ) and Gregory Smith (ROOKIE BLUE) are each set to direct an episode this season, joining directors David Wellington (THE ELEVENTH HOUR, WOULD BE KINGS, ROOKIE BLUE) Ken Girotti (BOMB GIRLS), John Fawcett (ORPHAN BLACK), and Jeff Woolnough (Jack). Plus, Gemini Award-winning actress Erin Karpluk (BEING ERICA) joins SAVING HOPE for a recurring guest starring role this season, playing a single mother and one of Dr. Joel Goran’s (Daniel Gillies) patients.
Lately I’ve been thrilled to see senior executives at the major Canadian broadcasters publicly declaring their desire to support Canadian content. I’d be slightly more thrilled if they gave some basic support to their Canadian content.
Barbara Williams, Senior Vice President of Content at Shaw Media, is co-chair of the working group that so piqued my interest with their ideas about celebrating the success stories in Canadian on-screen content. A recent example is that Shaw successfully cancelled Bomb Girls for low ratings that dropped after Global pulled it off the air and changed timeslots mid-season to make way for an American import.
Kevin Crull, President of Bell Media, says he wants to duplicate the star system of Quebec in English Canada, and acquiring Astral apparently will help him do that. The Montreal Gazette explains: “Crull didn’t give any details of Bell’s plans, though he did tell members of the academy that Bell’s strategy of putting Canadian TV shows in popular prime-time spots, keeping them there and heavily promoting them are keys to their success.”
Ah yes, regular timeslots and promotion — two of the most basic ways to build an audience. Which include, for instance, not programming Motive, your only Canadian scripted series on CTV, on Sunday nights so that you have to move it when ratings sag amid the killer competition.
To give Bell credit, they wisely launched Orphan Black after Doctor Who on Saturdays, where there was a well-primed audience free from most other TV-related distractions. If I were feeling magnanimous I wouldn’t point out that BBC America chose that timeslot and Space followed suit.
Crull’s colleague Scott Henderson, Vice-President of Communications at Bell Media, was a panellist at this week’s Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television’s event Getting Canadians To Watch Canadians. “How do you get Canadians to watch Canadian television?” the blurb reads, promising that executives from the major networks would “share what they are doing to capture and increase this audience.”
Let me share what they’re doing. The same week that Henderson spoke about this topic, his two homegrown scripted shows — Motive and Orphan Black — had nothing on their homepages to indicate that a new episode would air that week. No promo, no episode description, no information even that the episode would be new. The episode descriptions in the usual programming highlight media releases were AWOL too.
The CTV media releases — generally sent out bimonthly with descriptions of new episodes — were missing the May 2 Motive airing. One release listed shows until April 30 while the next began with May 3.
In the coming apocalypse, Space is clearly betting on zombies over clones. Their programming highlights media release has been condensed, eliminating Orphan Black episode descriptions, but if you want to know the details of Abraham Lincoln vs Zombies, or their zombie mini-series import In The Flesh, you’re in luck.
The episode descriptions are now only located on the walled media site, but that change was not communicated and relies on the media actively seeking the information. If their shows were in witness protection Bell couldn’t do a much better job of protecting them from prying eyes.
Both Motive and Orphan Black launched well, the former garnering over a million viewers and the latter breaking original series premiere ratings for Space. I have genuine respect for Bell for their initial promotion and for giving Motive the post-Super Bowl premiere.
But both shows have declined from their premiere ratings. Orphan Black has already been renewed and I’m confident it will continue to go strong. While it loses its Doctor Who lead-in soon, besides the engaged fans there’s at least the BBC America promotion seeping over the border.
Motive shows more troubling signs of softness that can be strengthened with consistency and promotion. It had recovered from the natural viewer erosion after the (wise) timeslot shift, but its ratings still fluctuate down to Bomb Girls levels now after reruns.
I don’t expect Bell to pull a Shaw and cancel Motive, but they have no other original series to promote right now. They should be aggressively promoting what they have.
Or at the very least, broadcasters should stop telling us about their successes and their valiant efforts to get reluctant Canadians to watch Canadian TV until they demonstrate a true desire to succeed with their Canadian shows.