Join Greg and Diane every Monday as we debate what’s on our minds. This week: Our thoughts regarding Rogers, Shaw and Bell Media’s 2015-16 broadcast schedules.
Overall, I’m frustrated with the amount of Canadian content that Rogers and Shaw have lined up for City and Global. A measly 60 minutes are devoted to homegrown series on City thanks to a second window of Mr. D and original episodes of Sunnyside. That’s it. Mr. D has gotten the short end of the stick in this formula, leading off the night on Thursdays in November and into unproven U.S. import Life in Pieces. Sunnyside has a cushy spot between Bob’s Burgers and Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Sundays in a night of back-to-back sitcoms that Global and Fox have made famous.
Over it Global it’s even more dire because they have exactly zero minutes of Cancon lined up for the fall. Shaw boss Christine Shipton played up the midseason return of Big Brother Canada and newbies The Code and Houdini and Doyle which, again, is just three hours of original stuff amid all of the acquired programs from south of the border. Adding to my frustration, of course, is the fact that Shaw cancelled Remedy only to trumpet U.S. medical drama Heartbreaker. (Two days after Shaw jetted star Melissa George to their upfront, NBC bumped Heartbreaker to mideason.)
Granted, Shaw has loaded up on Canadian content on its specialty channels with unscripted fare like Curse of the Frozen Gold, Battle Factory, Klondike Trappers, Unusually Thicke, The House that HGTV Built, Leave It to Bryan, Chef in Your Ear, Chopped Canada Teen Tournament, Food Network’s Great Canadian Cookbook, First Dates and scripted work in Vikings. That’s certainly more than what Rogers offers on OLN, FXX and FX Canada.
Bell Media comes off like a saviour thanks to putting Saving Hope in the prime Thursday night 9 p.m. slot on CTV, a move that shows confidence in the series. Motive and MasterChef Canada will both be back at midseason on CTV while CTV Two packs Saturday nights with repeats of The Listener, Flashpoint and Motive. On the other hand, Bell Media is playing it safe by sticking with what works on CTV and CTV Two; I wish the upcoming Letterkenny was given a chance to shine on the main networks rather than on The Comedy Network and CraveTV.
How depressing is it that the highest praise we can bestow on the major private networks this season is “yay, one of them is giving one of their own shows a decent fall timeslot”? Canadian TV: the home of lowered expectations.
Fall is a rough time for homegrown programs, though, amid the saturation of US shows’ big budgets and big marketing campaigns. It seems we’ve learned time and again that new series have a better chance of a successful launch in winter rather than fall.
Which doesn’t explain why there’s not much to say about the “16” part of their 2015-16 schedules. Motive and MasterChef Canada are coming up this winter and … no, never mind, there’s no “and.”
Global and City still have announced nothing original scheduled for post-Christmas. Only Global used the 2015-16 season announcements as an opportunity to talk about new upcoming shows — The Code and Houdini and Doyle, not yet in production and with no air dates attached, so don’t expect to see them before spring — and that appeared to be a case of misdirection in the hopes people wouldn’t notice they had butkus actually scheduled for 2015-16 in their scheduling announcements so far. The specialty networks are where Shaw has shows, but the mothership network? Nada.
I expect more development/in production announcements soon-ish, given how thin things are looking like right now and rumours of shows in their last seasons. I also expect Canadian shows may be slotted in ad hoc as US cancellations force a hole in the precious simsub schedules. But when putting on a show for advertisers through upfronts and high season schedules, the private networks are still all about that U.S. product with little to no room for original productions.
There’s a persistent rumour that Canadian productions don’t bring in the Canadian advertising like a U.S. show does. Chicken? Egg? If the networks don’t value them as much, it becomes hard to argue that advertisers and audiences should.