CBC: Will hockey + ? = ratings success?

Context: Last year, Slawko Klymkiw, then head of network TV, promised a 'breakthrough year' for the station, pegged on a new focus on strong dramas. Since then, big shows that received much fanfare this time last year - namely Da Vinci's City Hall, This is Wonderland and The Tournament - have been axed. Low ratings were blamed. In February, Kirstine Layfield stepped into Klymkiw's role, which he vacated last August, and it seems the search for a winning formula (beyond hockey) for the public net continues.

Context: Last year, Slawko Klymkiw, then head of network TV, promised a ‘breakthrough year’ for the station, pegged on a new focus on strong dramas. Since then, big shows that received much fanfare this time last year – namely Da Vinci’s City Hall, This is Wonderland and The Tournament – have been axed. Low ratings were blamed. In February, Kirstine Layfield stepped into Klymkiw’s role, which he vacated last August, and it seems the search for a winning formula (beyond hockey) for the public net continues.

2006/07 strategy: Saying that the upcoming season will be ‘a transition year for us,’ Layfield announced that, for the first time, CBC TV is going to a 24-hour schedule. ‘So that means populating more of the schedule with different kinds of programming to reach different kinds of audiences during the entire day,’ with minimal repeats.

Best bets: The CBC has ‘high expectations’ for Intelligence, the new crime series from creator/exec producer Chris Haddock (Da Vinci’s Inquest); Rumours, the English-language version of a popular Quebec comedy about the staff of a women’s magazine; and the migration from Newsworld of The Hour, the fast-paced nightly news and lifestyle show hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos, which launched last year. It will now also run at 11 p.m. daily on the main net. Plans were also announced for reality-based shows including The Canadian One and Dragon’s Den.

Sheila Malanchuk, media strategy director at OMD Vancouver, says the move of The Hour will likely pay off. ‘It’s not doing great in numbers right now on Newsworld, but the main network would really be the better fit for it as it’s a younger-skewing show. It’s certainly a better fit for the direction the main network wants to go in now.’ She also says that while the leap into reality television ‘is a little late’ it could be wise given that reality never seems to die.

She adds that it’s tough to judge, given that the bulk of the new programming has yet to be produced, but says the net’s new season marks a shift to more youthful programming – clearly a move to try (a word she emphasizes) to be more competitive.