The specialty hot list

Here’s the buzz on some of Canada’s top women, youth, men and boomer destinations, and intel on the new shows aiming to keep them there.

Putting the word “hot” before something confers elevated status or prestige. Why have a boring old email account when you can have Hotmail? Who wants a regular deal when there are hot ones to be had? And would you rather read a regular list, or a hot list?
While there is a specialty channel out there for pretty much every interest group imaginable, an informal poll of key media buyers helped us determine which are currently “hottest” on the basis of programming, audience growth, smart reinvention and nifty ad formats.
The resulting list is a snapshot of the current TVscape, but it’s important to note that “hot” is a transitory state.
After all, science not only tells us that heat rises, but what goes up, must come down. So here’s the buzz on some of Canada’s top women, youth, men and boomer destinations, and intel on the new shows aiming to keep them there.

 

TOP PICKS FOR WOMEN

W Network
AMA: 63,000 (2+); 19,000 (W25-54)

Buzz: Averaging more than 10 million viewers a month, “W totally dominates the women segment,” says Florence Ng, president, broadcast/video investments for ZenithOptimedia in Toronto. W also offers insight into women through its proprietary W Her Report – a blind panel of 2,500 women aged 18-70.
The channel will undergo a significant makeover this fall, moving away from focusing solely on beauty and transformation and adopting a lineup designed for broader audience appeal. This will be reflected in nine new prime-time series.

New for fall

Inside the Box With Ty Pennington
American design expert Ty Pennington brings his expertise to Canada in a new series pitting so-called “armchair designers” against each other. Produced by Cineflix Productions in association with W, each 30-minute episode features two amateur designers competing to create a themed room for their home. The catch is that they can only use items contained in a mystery crate – all selected by Pennington based on his understanding of each competitor’s style. Canadian designer Janette Ewen also stars.

Come Dine With Me Canada
Based on the popular Brit series, Come Dine With Me Canada follows five amateur chefs as they compete for the title of ultimate host, and a cash prize. Over the course of a week, each hosts a dinner that is scored by their rivals on such factors as cocktails, menu, entertainment and ambience. Produced by Proper Television in association with W, the series debuts in November.

Restaurant in our Living Room
In each one-hour ep of this eight-part U.K. reality series, two couples are given three days and £500 to create a restaurant in their home. Diners are then asked to pay what they think the meal is worth, and the couple that makes the most money gets to eat at one of the world’s top restaurants.

Slice
AMA: 27,700 (2+); 16,300 (A25-54);
15,800 (A18-49); 10,900 (W18-49)

Buzz: The former Life Network has been rejuvenated since relaunching as Slice in 2007. Its growing appeal is reflected in a 39.9% increase in ad revenues between 2007 and 2009 (from $18.3 million to $25.6 million). The channel also achieved a 27% increase in AMA among adults 25-54 in Winter/Spring 2010 over the year-earlier period, and a 21% increase among women 25-54.
“When it launched it was not delivering as per projections, but with the programming changes they’re making inroads,” says Ng. “It’s doing good numbers. Their program selection has a slightly younger skew and I think they’ve been doing a good job in that area.” Buyers also applaud the channel’s mix of smart, engaging programming like the Real Housewives series, Til Debt Do Us Part and Project Runway.

New for fall

Princess
Starring Til Debt Do Us Part host Gail Vaz-Oxlade, this 13-part series focuses on young women who are living way beyond their means and accumulating huge credit card debt. Throughout the hour-long episodes, Vaz-Oxlade firmly guides participants through a series of challenges
aimed at transforming them from princesses
into self-sufficient young women.

HGTV
AMA: 75,700 (2+); 39,100 (A25-54);
25,100 (W25-54)

Buzz: HGTV is the second-ranked specialty among women 25-54, with its AMA for Winter/Spring 2010 up 30% over last year. It’s also ranked fourth against women 18-49 and fifth against adults 25-54.
Media buyers applaud Canwest’s willingness to embrace out-of-the-box ad opportunities. “It’s good when a station is open to work with a client to do product integration or put together something unique like a sponsorship,” says Sheila Malanchuk, media/strategy manager for OMD Vancouver.

New for fall

My First Sale
Buying that first home is tough, but selling it is tougher. This half-hour series follows homeowners selling their first abode, providing tips to help them.

Battle on the Block
A character-driven home makeover show (eight half-hours) pits three neighbouring families in a battle to design and build a new room from scratch – in just one weekend. Winners receive $10,000.

Selling New York
This 30-minute show follows agents from Manhattan brokerages as they make their way through the cutthroat real estate world, rubbing shoulders with the city’s richest denizens.

Home to Keep
Popular HGTV personality Peter Fallico is back in a new half-hour series, helping homeowners transform wasted space into functional rooms.

Food Network
AMA: 55,600 (2+); 26,800 (A25-54); 28,200 (A25-54); 28,200 (A18-49); 14,500 (W18-49)

Buzz: “Food is doing very well,” says ZenithOptimedia’s Ng. “And it’s not just women – it’s adult focused. Food appeals to everybody.”
In the past year, it experienced 28% growth against adults 18-49 and 21% growth against women 18-49.
The Specialty Engagement Study conducted by Toronto’s Solutions Research Group confirmed that it’s the favourite specialty of women 25-54 and the third fave among adults 25-54. With a subscriber base topping 7.4 million and more than six million viewers each week, its AMA puts it among the top 10 specialties for several demos, including adults 18-49, women 18-49, adults 18-34 and women 18-34.

New for fall

Top Chef: Washington
The latest instalment of the popular chef wars format takes place in the U.S. capital, and features guest appearances by Buzz Aldrin, White House chef Sam Kass and CIA director Leon Panetta. Over the 19 episodes, participants face some of the most creative challenges the series has dished up – like taking over the concession stands at the home of Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals, heading inside CIA HQ and taking direction from a NASA astronaut orbiting Earth.

The Opener
This 19-parter follows celebrity chef and restaurant consultant David Adjey as he walks aspiring restaurateurs through the steps necessary to create their own restaurant. Over the course of each hour-long ep, Adjey blends tough love and unorthodox methods to get entrepreneurs’ dreams off the ground.

Dinner Party Wars
This 13-ep series features three couples going head-to-head in a no-holds-barred dinner party competition. Each couple is judged by expert chef Corbin Tomaszeski and event planner Anthea Turner, who will rate their food and ambience.

Private Chefs of Beverly Hills
This six-part docu-soap follows chefs from an elite private-chef placement agency. On call around the clock, these chefs cater to the whims of eccentric clientele in Hollywood’s swankiest ’hood.

Jamie’s American Road Trip
Jamie Oliver sets off down America’s back roads in search of real food. Premiering in November, each one-hour episode of the six-parter follows the celeb chef as he encounters real cooks making delicious food at street stalls and off-road diners.

TOP PICKS FOR YOUTH

YTV
AMA: 122,000 (2+); 39,000 (2-11);
29,000 (W18-49)

Buzz: Ng says Canada’s first youth channel has remained attractive to advertisers because of its ability to attract shared parent/child viewing. “It has helped maintain the audience delivery,” she says.
“You tend to think of YTV as [catering to] moms and kids,” adds Valerie McMorran, SVP, investment director for SMG in Toronto, noting that shows like SpongeBob SquarePants make it a beacon for the younger set.
YTV has been researching the co-viewing trend for the past five years, finding it can increase ad recall by up to three times and there’s increased conversation about programs and commercials. Seen in over 10.5 million homes and reaching an estimated 2.2 million kids each month, YTV features hosted day-parts along with kid-targeted and
co-viewing blocks that include after-school block The Zone, the Saturday morning toon block Crunch, and the Sunday movies block Zapx.

New for fall

Victorious
This live-action comedy from Nickelodeon follows the journey of a 15-year-old girl growing up in the shadow of her older sister – the “star” of the family. A fluke accident lands her at the prestigious Hollywood Arts high school, where she discovers getting in is easier than fitting in.

Big Time Rush
Four best friends from Minnesota suddenly find themselves part of the L.A. music scene, attempting to become the next big boy band. Produced by Nickelodeon in partnership with Sony Music, each half-hour live-action episode features original songs performed by the “band.”

Sidekick
A young orphan living in an  animated world filled with heroes and villains is about to begin his new role as a sidekick for the world’s greatest superhero, Maxum Man, when his would-be boss disappears. The series, produced in Canada by Nelvana Studio, follows his antics at Splittsboro Sidekick Academy.

MuchMusic
AMA: 32,100 (2+); 17,000 (12-34)

Buzz: A charter member of Canada’s specialty TV club, Much has evolved from its beginnings as a video network to a full-fledged channel. ZenithOptimedia’s Ng says it found success by repurposing network shows like So You Think You Can Dance, enabling them to reach a younger audience. “It gives people another chance to watch a show that they missed…and at the same time it brings a fresh audience. It’s always easier to target the older demo [but] it’s the younger viewers we have a much tougher time getting our hands on.”
 
New for fall

Price of Beauty
This new series, airing Thursdays at 8 p.m., follows Jessica Simpson as she travels around the world meeting everyday women and local pop culture icons. Simpson examines local fashions, diets and beauty regimes.

Pants Off, Dance Off
This 30-minute show features average Canadians dancing to their favourite music video. There’s a twist, however: they must strip while doing it. A phenomenon that has swept through the U.S. and the U.K., it is now making its way to Canada.

Teletoon
AMA: 41,700 (K2-11); 57,300 (A18-49)

Buzz: SMG’s McMorran says Teletoon has carved out a niche between younger-focused YTV and teen/young adult-skewing stations like MTV Canada. “It’s well distinguished from YTV, which tends to be families and the 6-11 age group,” she says. While kids 2-11 comprise an estimated 43% of the audience, for early evening fare such as Star Wars: The Clone Wars and 6Teen, tweens and teens comprise 17% of the viewers.
The animation station’s first foray into live-action features is movie of the week My Babysitter’s a Vampire, which will be the basis of a 13-part series for Fall 2011. And it continues to make inroads with older viewers: the Teletoon at Night block has propelled it to fourth-ranked non-sports specialty against adults 18-49 on weeknights, up from 12th last year, while the Superfan Fridays block makes it the second-ranked non-sports specialty, up from eighth.

New for fall

Skatoony
Adapted from the U.K. series of the same name, this Hollywood Squares-inspired quiz show combines real-life kids with an assortment of well-known animated characters from other Teletoon shows. Produced by Toronto-based Marblemedia, the show will be complemented by an online multi-player game at Teletoon.com, where kids will be able to play each other in real-time. The site lets kids customize their own character and the Skatoony game show environment, and view bonus video content.

The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
This 26-episode series follows superheroes like Iron Man, Captain America and Thor as they band together to protect the planet from the likes of super villains, alien invaders and mad robots.

MTV Canada
AMA: 16,700 (2+); 11,200 (12-34)

Buzz: Not only one of the world’s most famous media brands, MTV has remained relevant to youth – and the advertisers that covet them – through robust deployment of online and social media tools. SMG’s McMorran describes it as the embodiment of a 21st-century broadcaster.
“They get that when they do integrated initiatives, they have to be multi-platform in scope and scale,” she says. During the recent MTV Movie Awards, a marketing partnership with BlackBerry saw the show’s Canadian host Johnny Hockin chat with fans using the BlackBerry Messenger service.
The channel’s core broadcast business also continues to thrive. While U.S. ratings for the MTV Movie Awards were down 13%, MTV Canada garnered its largest audience ever with nearly one million people catching all or some of the awards.

New for fall

World of Jenks
Premiering Sept. 25, this series follows documentary filmmaker Andrew Jenks (Room 335) as he shadows a stranger. Throughout each
one-hour episode, Jenks explores the person’s life and interacts with their family and friends – while the camera records every moment.

Bridge & Tunnel
Airing Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m., this reality series follows a group of high school grads from New York’s oft-maligned borough of Staten Island as they pursue their dream of making it to Manhattan.

TOP PICKS FOR MEN

Rogers Sportsnet
AMA: 112,000 (2+), 49,000 (A25-54),
31,000 (M25-54)

 
Buzz: Thanks to its four regional channels, Sportsnet is a leader in hometown sports coverage. The channel saw significant audience increases in several of its biggest properties last year, ranging from a 96% jump for Toronto Maple Leafs telecasts to a 10% increase for Edmonton Oilers telecasts.
In Vancouver, Sportsnet was the fourth-rated channel (conventional or specialty) among people 2+ between January and May, beating City, A Channel and OMNI B.C. Its Canucks telecasts are a fixture in the weekly top 10, garnering anywhere from an 8-10 rating according to OMD Vancouver’s Malanchuk.

New for fall

UFC Preliminaries
As part of its strategy to be Canada’s leader in mixed martial arts programming, Sportsnet has secured exclusive Canadian rights to preliminary bouts for the Ultimate Fighting Championships’ pay-per-view cards. The network also holds exclusive broadcast rights to UFC Live, which features bouts not carried on pay-per-view.
Barclay’s Premier League
Sportsnet has signed a new three-year deal to broadcast Barclay’s Premier League soccer matches. The network will show two matches a week, accompanied by the country’s leading soccer magazine show, Soccercentral.

MLB Playoffs
Sportsnet will cover the entire MLB post-season, from the Divisional series right through the World Series. Among adults 25-54, AMAs for the 2009 Divisional series were up 36% over the previous season (131,000), while World Series viewing was up 50% to 265,000.

NFL
Sportsnet has inked a new three-year deal with the National Football League, giving it broadcast rights to two 4 p.m. games on Sunday. With an AMA of 159,000 among adults 25-54, Sunday afternoon NFL games were up 119% over the previous year. Sportsnet will also carry eight Thursday night games beginning in November.

TSN
AMA:  580,000 (2+)

The buzz: It’s an irrefutable fact: men watch a lot of sports. And as TSN continues to bring it male-audience-wise, advertisers follow suit: while national ad revenue for Canada’s 180 pay, PPV, VOD and specialty services decreased by 2.4%, TSN’s revenues increased 4.5% to $98.5 million.
Interestingly, the introduction of BBM Canada’s new PPM measurement technology has shown an increased number of women watching as well.
“They’re showing a lot more female viewers than we’re used to seeing,” says Carol Cummings, director of television services for Media Experts in Toronto. “Whether they’re sitting watching with their husband or boyfriend, or doing something else, nobody knows.”
TSN will televise more than 70 regular season NHL games this season (all featuring at least one Canadian team), and once again, all 77 CFL games – including the playoffs and the Grey Cup – will be carried on TSN.

New for fall

Into the Wind – A Film by Steve Nash
Canadian NBA star Steve Nash makes his filmmaking debut with this documentary about Canadian icon Terry Fox. The film chronicles Fox’s journey from anonymity to national hero during his Marathon of Hope.

IIHF World Junior Championship
A holiday hockey tradition, this year’s championship will take place in Buffalo, N.Y.
TSN will carry all of Team Canada’s games.

The Score
AMA: 33,375 (2+)

The buzz: Like an up-and-coming rookie, The Score is pushing established veterans like TSN and Sportsnet – particularly among young male viewers. The AMA for its core audience, males 18-34, is up 70% over last year, while 2+ audiences are up 50%.
It is also highly active in the digital space. Its ScoreMobile app was recently named one of the top 20 free BlackBerry apps by PC Magazine, and it is introducing ScoreMobile FC – which will provide comprehensive stats, standings and scores for more than 50 international soccer leagues from more than 15 countries. Also new is The Score on iPad – which will bring iPad users the best of Thescore.com’s blogs, original videos and data “powered by” ScoreMobile.
Buyers like the fact that it skews slightly younger than its rivals and is an affordable alternative. “They certainly have the ability to offer a more cost-effective option,” says Malanchuk, “You can do much more, whether it’s just a simple local integration or something more major.”

New for fall

Serie A Italian Championship Soccer
The world-famous Italian Calcio professional league is new to The Score’s program roster this fall. In addition to full games, highlights and league news will be available on the TV property, ScoreMobile and TheScore.com. 

Gillette Drafted 2: The Search for Canada’s Next Sportscaster
This reality series developed with P&G follows a group of aspiring sportscasters as they attempt to land a gig with Score Media, contributing to The Score, TheScore.com and ScoreMobile. For 2010, the eight-minute segments of season one will grow to half-hour eps.

WEC: World Extreme Cagefighting
The Score signed a multiplatform deal with WEC, one of the world’s largest mixed martial arts organizations, that will see it carry seven live WEC fights as well as online content.

 

TOP PICKS FOR BOOMERS

Bravo
AMA: 33,700 (2+); 11,900 (adults 25-54)

Buzz: With more than 7.02 million subscribers, Bravo is the spot for Canadian boomers. The channel caters to adults 25-54, with a slight female skew. While buyers say audience numbers have declined slightly since PPM was introduced, ZenithOptimedia’s Ng attributes the decline to the fact that Bravo programs tend to be watched solo. “Most of the shows that Bravo carries are the ones that [individual] people will watch; it’s less about family viewing,” she says.

New for fall

Criminal Minds (Seasons 1-4)
The Emmy-nominated drama about elite FBI profilers will air Monday to Thursday at 6 p.m., so fans of Mandy Patinkin and Joe Mantegna can get a daily dose of disturbed criminal psyche-probing.
Da Vinci’s Inquest (Seasons 1-7)
One of Canada’s longest-running dramas – wherein Nicholas Campbell, Donnelly Rhodes and Gwynyth Walsh portray Vancouver coroners and detectives solving mysterious deaths – will now be served up from Monday to Friday at 7 p.m.

Great Canadian Books

Saturdays at 8:30 p.m., Canadian personalities like Mary Walsh, Rex Murphy and Justin Trudeau review their favourite Canadian novel. The 13-episode series also highlights animation and art related to the literature. Among the highlighted novels are Fugitive Pieces and Late Nights on Air.

History
AMA: 90,200 (2+); 40,900 (A25-54);
16,300 (W25-54)

Buzz: The number four rated specialty channel against adults 25-54, History continues to grow its audience against several key demos. Shows like Pawn Stars are leading women to discover the channel themselves rather than as a result of co-viewing – making it the number seven channel against women 25-54.
“They have a lot more variety [in the schedule],” says Ng. “If you go back a couple of years, they were all about war movies.” More syndicated programming, she says, has not only boosted audience numbers, but has helped the channel skew slightly younger.
History offers innovative ad formats, including exclusive sponsored events and programming blocks, in-show promotional bugs and customized content opps. This spring, for example, History partnered with Harley Davidson on a series of customized “This day in history” vignettes.
Each 15-second spot juxtaposed a significant event in the motorcycle maker’s history – such as the 1925 introduction of the iconic tear drop gas tank – with current “events” like “Rene gets new V-Rod Muscle Motorcycle.”

New for fall

American Pickers
Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz recycle America – one piece of “junk” at a time. Each hour-long ep sees the duo brave piles of grimy junk and shotgun-wielding home owners to salvage forgotten relics.

William Shatner’s Weird or What
The former Captain Kirk boldly goes where no (okay some) TV host has gone before, investigating all that’s weird in the world. Each one-hour episode sees Shatner try to find logical explanations for everything from paranormal phenomena to medical oddities.
 
Nazi Hunters
The six-parter follows real-life Nazi hunters as they relate their pursuit of notorious war criminals. Stories include tracking Klaus Barbie in Bolivia, and the audacious Mossad operation to kidnap Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires.

The Discovery Channel
AMA: 7-11 p.m., 181,400 (2+); 89,300 (A25-54); 89,700 (A18-49) 2 a.m.-2 a.m., 91,800 (2+); 46,600 (A18-49); 44,100 (A25-54)

Buzz: With four consecutive years of subscriber growth – it reached the 8 million mark in 2009 – and $39.6 million in annual ad revenues, The Discovery Channel is a fixture among Canada’s top specialties. It got there by cleverly promoting homegrown programming such as Canada’s Worst Driver and Canada’s Worst Handyman, coupled with anchor event programming like Shark Week.
Marketers can also attach themselves to programming through custom-created initiatives, such as ice cream bar Klondike’s “Klondike Shark Adventure” contest around Shark Week – which asks participants “What would you do for a Klondike shark adventure?” – and Canadian Tire’s sponsorship around Canada’s Worst Handyman called “Frat House Frenzy.”
Elsewhere, Discovery’s revamped website now offers full episodes of several shows, plus bonus videos, enhanced TV listings and desktop widgets.
 
New for fall

Worst-Case Scenario
Based on the best-selling books of the same name, this 12-part series features host Bear Grylls (Man vs. Wild) demonstrating how to survive potentially life-threatening situations. Each half hour, Grylls will show how knowledge and skills can help anyone escape a high-rise apartment fire or fend off a shark attack.

Breakout
Premiering Wed., Nov. 13, this eight-episode series highlights some of the most audacious jailbreaks in history. Each hour follows escaped convicts and the lawmen chasing them.

TOP PICKS FOR FRENCH

RDS
AMA: 6-11p.m., 285,000 (2+)

Buzz: RDS was Montreal’s third most-watched channel – either specialty or conventional – this spring, with an AMA of 93,600 among viewers 2+; 37,100 among adults 18-49, and 39,000 among adults 25-54 – all buoyed by the Montreal Canadiens’ unlikely playoff run. “It’s number one against male and even some female demos,” says Line Contant, broadcast manager for Media Experts in Montreal. For the year, RDS garnered nine of the top 10 and 14 of the top 20 specialty programs against viewers 2+. The channel is also home to all four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, more than 30 PGA Tour events and NFL football. The channel has augmented its broadcast offering with mobile apps, live webcasting and a social network on RDS.ca.

New for fall

NHL Hockey
RDS will carry all 82 Montreal Canadiens games in high-def, along with 30 other National Hockey League match-ups. Notable games include the 2011 Heritage Classic outdoor game, taking place at Calgary’s McMahon Stadium on Feb. 20, which sees the Canadiens face the hometown Flames.

CFL Football
RDS will carry all of the Montreal Alouettes’ regular season and playoff games, as well as the 2010 Grey Cup.

Séries+
AMA: 44,500 (2+); 14,300 (A18-49); 15,700 (A25-54)

Buzz: SMG’s McMorran calls Series+ “a mainstay” against Francophone women, thanks to a schedule comprised of original series augmented by U.S. imports like Bones and CSI: Miami. “Viewers tend to be attracted to the station and it’s performing well,” she says. Women 25-54 spend an average of 3.1 hours per week with the channel, equaling the time spent with conventional network V.
Meanwhile, its website averaged 120,000 unique visitors a month in the most recent quarter, a 155% increase over the previous year.

New for fall

Les Oubliés (The Forgotten)
They’ve picked up the U.S. series starring Christian Slater as an ex-cop who heads a victims’ rights group committed to uncovering the stories behind the unidentified remains that turn up in America.

Malenfant
Debuting in Spring 2011, this miniseries features Luc Picard in the lead role of Raymond Malenfant, the Quebec businessman who built a hotel empire only to see it crumble and wind up facing fraud charges from the provincial government.

VRAK
AMA: 31,100 (2+); 13,000 (A18-49);
10,300 (A25-54)

Buzz: The youth-oriented specialty channel reaches an estimated 73% of Quebec’s nine- to 14-year-olds each week. Buyers are especially enthused by the upcoming introduction of a new live programming block. “That will be a great opportunity for advertisers to introduce integrated content,” says McMorran.
The channel is also revamping its website, which currently reaches 86,000 people each month, to incorporate more programming. “That multi-platform TV and online [component] is so important in that age group,” says McMorran.

New for fall

R’garde-moi quand j’te parle
A hybrid TV-radio show between VRAK and the NRJ radio network, R’garde-moi quand j’te parle will be hosted by NRJ DJ and host Julie St-Pierre and actor François Bernier, who starred in VRAK’s Frank vs. Girard. The half-hour show will air nightly at 7:30 p.m. beginning Aug. 27.