The regions rally

Rates may be going up but that won't dampen demand in some regions of Canada where media buyers who don't complete their fall buys well before the end of June may find themselves out in the cold.
Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal are three markets where latecomers could miss out on prime-time programming buys. The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is a perennial hot spot, but because of the expanse of the market, buyers have more stations to choose from.

Rates may be going up but that won’t dampen demand in some regions of Canada where media buyers who don’t complete their fall buys well before the end of June may find themselves out in the cold.

Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal are three markets where latecomers could miss out on prime-time programming buys. The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is a perennial hot spot, but because of the expanse of the market, buyers have more stations to choose from.

Montreal is already experiencing a sold-out summer and many television buyers are planning to make their fall commitments by mid-month.

Cathy Baier, media director at BBDO Montreal, says because the French-language stations have nothing available in summer airtime, her clients have not yet been able to get make-goods due from last fall’s buy.

Typically, she says, fall buying has been done over the months of June, July and August but this year it will all have to be wrapped in June if she wants to get good programming.

‘They’re not sold out yet for fall but it will be earlier than [last year]. The market is changing and just like in Vancouver, we have to buy early. Clients will have to realize that if they want to have a campaign on air, they will have to work well in advance.’

Maria Spensieri, VP media director at Allard-Johnson Communications in Montreal, expects the strong demand in Montreal to continue.

‘Demand is not softening. We’re experiencing something quite phenomenal this year in the Quebec market where the summer is completely sold out [for traditional broadcasters] and specialties are almost sold out.

‘We’re trying to figure out what the heck happened! It could be a snowball effect of many things. Clients may have been holding back money due to recession talk and then when the market started to look healthy into second and third quarters of the year, they started putting money back in.’

Ad rates are expected to go up across the country, anywhere from 2% to 10%, depending on the size of the region. But, as David Stanger points out, client budgets are not keeping up the same pace and are growing marginally, if at all.

Stanger, head of the Vancouver office of DSA Baron Communications, says because of this lack of budget increases, he’s seeing a trend toward ‘squeezing the market list,’ not just in the Vancouver region but also across the country.

‘If I still want to be on television but the cost is escalating beyond how much my budget is growing, how do I stay on TV? What I’ve seen in this last year from my own clients, and in talking to other media planners across the country, is that the way they’re maintaining television is [by] shortening their market list. Those second-tier markets are going to become increasingly reliant on retail advertising dollars because national advertisers are shortening their lists.’

The rate increases are part of the normal course of business when broadcasters are spending more to buy and produce programming. The strength or softness of the U.S. upfront buying blitz doesn’t usually impact much on rates or demand in the Canadian marketplace. Dennis Dinga, director of broadcast buying for M2 Universal in Toronto, says it’s like comparing apples to oranges – the U.S. effect is really a non-issue.

‘It has an impact when the U.S. has had a bullish upfront such as, for example, a couple of years ago when all the dotcom companies were active and they were seeing double-digit increases,’ he says. ‘Canadian broadcasters were trying to use that to drive up cost in Canada. It had some effect but not much. When the reverse happens, like last year’s upfront in the U.S., it really didn’t affect Canada in terms of advertisers holding back dollars.’

Montreal: Rates vaulting to

Vancouver levels

In the Montreal market, increased ad rates are likely to have even more of an impact than in the rest of country because buyers put their dollars into both English and French television. Increases between 2% and 5% are expected.

Except for Societé Radio-Canada (SRC), nets aren’t scheduling a lot of new shows for fall launch.

BBDO’s Baier says with the sold-out status in the market for summer, French-language broadcasters have been working to increase the rates in the market. She says Quebec broadcasters have also been comparing their costs to other markets like Toronto and Vancouver, and found they’re relatively cheap in comparison.

‘They have explained they will increase their costs but they will take five years to do so and then we’ll have cost levels similar to Vancouver. The answer from [the Quebec Media Directors Council] is that it’s not as easy as it could be to increase the costs because to do a good job in Montreal, we have to buy two markets – English and French.’

A recent programming development could also have some ramifications in the market: SRC has lost Hockey Night in Canada to RDS, the French-language sibling of TSN.

Allard-Johnson’s Spensieri says RDS now pretty much owns sports in Quebec.

‘If you’re looking for a male audience, you have to go RDS. It has really taken possession of the sports area. TVA even cancelled its sports news during the course of this year.’

Spensieri says while SRC’s number-two position in the market could be in jeopardy with the loss of hockey, it has some good new programs for the fall and several solid, proven properties. Unlike CBC, which she says is often considered the underdog, SRC is a very good contender in Quebec.

Baier says SRC is beefing up its daytime schedule against TVA, which is number one in daytime, and introducing two new programs with well-known hosts. SRC is also adding to its evening lineup with a quiz show, new dramatic series, a variety show, sitcoms and miniseries with popular Quebec stars.

Richard Portelance, GM sales and marketing for SRC, says the network has been working hard to develop all the new programming it is launching this fall and early in 2003. The new season will be promoted on-air as well as in newspaper, radio and with billboards.

‘We’ve been busy putting things together the last couple of years because we have to change our direction. I think the reaction we’ve gotten so far on our new programs, particularly in Toronto, has been very good.’

Portelance says SRC is trying to give its advertisers good service but the network’s inventory is ‘sold out almost all through the year.’

He says, ‘[Television in Quebec] has gone through price wars the last few years but since we are sold out right now, we have to start managing our inventory and our prices. Compared to Toronto and Vancouver, the television ads are so cheap. The environment overall is so different in Quebec. We have a captive market and we also have a [talent] star system for [original programming] in Quebec.’

SRC will be introducing a new morning show hosted by well-known Quebec radio and television personalities Dominique Bertrand and Paul Houde to fill the 9 to 11 a.m. slot, followed by a half-hour cooking show. At 5:30 in the afternoon comes Wizz, a quiz show set in a virtual world.

Adding to its public affairs programming in the evening is a news magazine hosted by Simon Durivage, a former Radio-Canada personality who has been at rival TVA for the past five years.

New sitcoms include a political parody and a Friends-like show, both starting in September. Drama series TAG returns in October, and two others are slated to start in January.

The miniseries Trudeau, shown on CBC this past season, will air on SRC in four episodes in September and October. A new variety show joins the schedule in January along with the return of Music Hall and The Last Chapter, a drama about biker gangs.

Baier says SRC needed to launch some new shows to maintain its position. TVA is still the leader in the market, followed by SRC and TQS, although she says TQS has made some slight gains.

‘TQS is still in third position but at least [its share] is increasing. SRC has lost 10% of the market over the past 10 years and with losing hockey, that will have an impact on their share.’

The demographic profiles of the big three networks show TVA reaching a more female audience and the 25 to 54 age group; TQS generally skewing younger and more male; and SRC appealing equally to male and female audiences but slightly older, 30-plus.

Last year at this time, the Montreal market was undergoing a couple of changes. Both TVA and TQS were undergoing ownership changes and the market was moving from paper diaries to people meters.

Both BBM and Nielsen Media Research have meters in Montreal while outside the city, BBM’s paper diaries are still used for selective buying.

Right now buyers are subscribing to both services, but on the broadcast side, TVA and SRC have gone to BBM only. At press time it was not known whether TQS would follow.

Baier says the major difference between BBM and Nielsen is that BBM’s audience numbers are lower, which is perhaps not a good thing for broadcasters and may give the buyers some leverage.

The purchase of TVA by Quebecor Media and TQS by Cogeco last year have had little or no effect in the market except for what Baier calls ‘an aggressive push’ by TVA to sell cross-platform campaigns. Quebecor recently added to its stable of magazines through the acquisition of Publicor and now controls 60% to 65% of the magazine market.

Vancouver: Musical chairs ends with a sister for City

This past year was a confusing one in Vancouver with broadcasters changing ownership, positioning and programming, and two new stations entering the market.

The game of musical chairs ended with CHUM Television owning two stations in the market: CKVU Vancouver (Citytv Vancouver) and CIVI Victoria (The New VI). CanWest Global, which previously owned CKVU, now also has two properties: CHAN (Global BC) and CHEK (CH Victoria).

CTV programming had formerly been broadcast over what are now the two CanWest Global stations. BCE-owned CIVT has now become the official CTV station in the market and has been re-branded BC CTV.

The second new entry is NOWTV, owned by Trinity Television, which broadcasts family-friendly shows.

There were no changes at CBUT, the CBC station.

The market is a hot one with buyers expected to make their fall buying decisions much earlier this year than in the past.

Carol Cummings, senior TV buyer for Media Experts of Montreal and Toronto, says closed captioning in particular is going fast. Cummings buys a lot of closed captioning sponsorship for one of her national clients and is finding that the inventories in Calgary and Vancouver are snapped up quickly by retailers and other local advertisers.

DSA’s Stanger says Vancouver is hot, not because it doesn’t have enough stations, but rather because national advertisers are cutting down their market lists.

‘Advertisers are looking at where they’re going to make or break their business nationally. If 60% of sales are going to come from southern Ontario, the lower mainland of British Columbia and Calgary, then I’d better do a really good job there and whatever [budget] is left over I’ll fill in the holes according to priority.

‘For people buying television, they’ll look at networks and specialty cable as a means of providing some national support for their brands. When it comes to spot buying, they’re going to load up in Vancouver, Calgary and southern Ontario, so the demand is huge. That doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of TV stations. It’s just that those are the most important markets for any business trying to be successful in Canada.’

Both CanWest Global and CHUM Television have positioned their two stations as they have in several other markets.

Like the positioning of Ontario stations VR in Barrie, RO in Ottawa and PL in London, CHUM introduced CIVI in Victoria last fall as The New VI.

Stanger says CHUM is particularly good at getting it right, market by market, and that is proving to be the case in Vancouver/Victoria.

He says VI’s mix of local programming, local news, current events and cultural programming, along with U.S. shows such as Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, has made it a very significant and solid player in the Vancouver media buying market.

The disappointment for CHUM is that the audience for the local programming has not been that strong as yet, but Stanger says that it always takes time for broadcasters to build credible, saleable audiences for local shows.

CHUM also recently unveiled the new look and format for CKVU in Vancouver, now officially known as Citytv Vancouver.

‘What they’re going to do in Vancouver is take the Citytv formula that works so well in Toronto and they’re going to tweak it and get it right for Vancouver,’ says Stanger.

‘The market is ripe for a Vancouver station. Global, CTV and CBC are national brands, so there’s an opportunity for a local station to establish itself with a local identity.’

David Kirkwood, VP marketing and sales for Toronto-based CHUM, says Citytv Vancouver will look a lot like Toronto’s Citytv, with its bedrock of news, movies and a more hip, urban appeal than VI.

Similar to the other NewNet stations (such as The New VR in Barrie, Ont.), The New VI will feature new U.S. pickups John Doe, Meds, Haunted, and Birds of Prey, along with tried and true properties, such as Buffy and Earth Final Conflict. (For complete descriptions of all new shows, see page TV37.)

Similarly, CanWest is successfully using its Toronto region Global and CH programming models in the Vancouver market with CHEK in Victoria, now branded CH, and CHAN in Vancouver, which is the Global network station.

Stanger says Global is still number one in news, and with shows like Friends, Will & Grace, The Simpsons and Malcolm in the Middle, it has about 14 of the top 20 shows in the market.

The top 20, he says, are rounded out with CTV ratings winners like CSI and ER, as well as Hockey Night in Canada from CBC and some CHUM properties, such as Enterprise.

BC CTV has been predictable, says Stanger, with Canada AM and an adult newscast making it a credible news player overnight. It is also skewing older, 30-plus, while the CHUM stations aim at the 18-to-34s and try to grow up with them.

Stanger believes CBC’s CBUT is a perennial good buy.

‘I’m a huge CBC fan from a media buying point of view in that with their programming, from one year to the next, you know exactly what it’s going to be. Most of their shows – Witness, Nature of Things and down the list – have been on air for 10 to 20 years. There’s a lot of information available about who watches them and they don’t get pre-empted every week by U.S. networks changing things around.’

Stanger’s prediction for a surefire winner this fall is CSI spinoff CSI: Miami, which will air on CTV. The scenario to watch, he says, is which show will be the chosen one – the successor to NBC’s Friends (seen on Global in Canada) – because NBC only has a year to grow a new anchor program for Thursday evenings (for Janice Fish’s prediction of the new anchor, see page TV22).

Toronto: Two new

channels after all

In Toronto, the big news was going to be the launch of two new regionals this fall, but thanks to delays caused by Cabinet appeals, it looks like it will be one new station this fall, and a second in the spring.

Rogers, which currently operates multicultural station CFMT, will be launching a second station called CFM2 in September. It will be somewhat similar to the original, featuring a wide range of movies, cooking, entertainment, news and public affairs programming in English and virtually every other language spoken in the GTA.

Craig’s Toronto|One was also slated to launch this fall, but got bogged down with six appeals to the Federal Cabinet. It managed to face them down, however, and Craig just announced that Toronto|One’s licence has been upheld and the channel will hit the air in spring 2003.

Toronto|One is being positioned as an English-language multicultural station catering to Toronto’s ethnic diversity. Some of its planned programming includes The Toronto Show, a live variety show weekday evenings; a guide to the city’s arts and entertainment called Toronto Life, in tandem with the magazine of the same name; Second City Improv; and New Voices, a program block reflecting the multicultural population of the city.

Rate increases in the GTA are expected to be in the 5% range, and demand seems to be strong.

Helena Shelton, VP broadcast manager at Media Buying Services in Toronto, says the cost of new programming remains high and as a result, broadcasters are looking for increases.

‘Let’s just hope that their schedules and audiences warrant what [rates] they’re asking for,’ she says. ‘We feel demand will be there, it will just be later than we’ve been used to in the past few years. The economy is healthy.’

Florence George, VP/media director, broadcast at HYPN, says increased rates could drive buyers to put more money into specialties. When it comes to the new diginets, she agrees with most buyers that they are not a factor because of the low penetration of digital households.

Originally, says George, spring and summer did not look good to broadcasters because client approvals were late, but summer into fall is looking good.

‘Perhaps clients are spending now in anticipation that fall budgets will be peeled back when bottom lines have to be met,’ says George. ‘This generally applies to companies operating on calendar fiscal years.’

Toronto broadcasters also seem to be jockeying for position as they all pursue the coveted younger demo.

M2′s Dinga believes Global will continue to be a younger-skewing station with more female viewers, and CTV will continue to try to capture a younger demographic.

‘CTV every year attempts to get a little younger and accomplishes a bit of that, but CTV in general will still be an older skewing, more adult and more upscale station than Global in my opinion.

‘CTV was more of a 35-plus station so they have to cast a little younger to capture the 25 to 34 group. Most people are either buying 18 to 49 or 25 to 54. Overall in that demographic, Global does a lot better because they have that younger programming – Friends, Simpsons and Malcolm.’

Dinga adds, ‘Buyers of course are going to go to Global and CTV first because that’s where the bulk of the top-20 programming is.’

But Rick Lewchuk, senior VP program planning and promotion at CTV, takes issue with the idea that his network skews older, saying that CTV’s ratings with the youngsters are skewed by the net’s strength in news.

‘We have such huge news numbers and news watchers tend to be a bit older. People don’t start watching news until they get into their 30s. If you take the viewers of CFTO News [at 6 p.m.] and for Lloyd Robertson [at 11 p.m.] and do an average age of viewers, it shows an untrue story.’

He adds that ‘when you look at the individual programs we have, like The Amazing Race, we have a lot of programs that skew very nicely to the younger audience.’

New fall shows scheduled on CTV and its regional affiliates include CSI spinoff CSI: Miami, a show picked by buyers in all regions as a likely winner. Overall, the roster includes 11 new dramas and sitcoms, 10 original Canadian movies and 13 new documentary titles. CTV also seems to have a lock on awards shows for the new season with the Junos, Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Emmys, Daytime Emmys, American Music Awards and the People’s Choice Awards in its stable.

Lewchuk says the fall season will be strongly promoted on air, in print and via cross-platform promotions with other Bell Globemedia properties. He says he’s also looking at some other ‘out of the box’ opportunities.

CTV will be relying less on TV books like TV Times, Starweek and Globe Television because, Lewchuk says, outside of Toronto 30% to 40% of households receive digital television and are relying on the on-screen guide when making their channel-tuning decisions.

Over at CHUM Television, the new season will see two new shows airing on Citytv: Smallville, the story of a young Superman (previously seen on Global), and JKX: The Jamie Kennedy Experiment, which features a young comic staging various skits and scenarios.

VR has bought titles such as John Doe, Haunted, Birds of Prey, Twilight Zone, Meds, America’s Funniest Home Videos, That Was Then, RHD/LA and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. It has also added One Life to Live to its daytime schedule.

CHUM’s David Kirkwood says the new programming investment for The New VR and the other NewNet stations was by far its most aggressive. The marketing of the fall schedule will be on a much larger scale than in the past, he says, and for the NewNets, it will be coordinated nationally with both off- and on-air promotion.

‘We have become more sophisticated in the past year about our on-air promotion and cross promotion. We’ll be making more sophisticated and frequent use of our resources – all our CHUM radio and television properties – in addition to increasing our outside advertising budgets.’

He adds that ‘the national focus on NewNet programming will link with outside advertising and on-air, so what goes into TV books looks like on-air promotional ads across the country.’

Meanwhile, CanWest Global will continue a successful strategy that incorporates both Global and CH. Media Experts’ Cummings says CanWest tends to target the 18- to 34-year-old group with Global and puts its older-skewing programming such as 20/20 and 60 Minutes on CH to try to gain as much of the market as it can.

Even with that tactic, she says Global’s share was down, and when comparing market share between 2000/01 and 2001/02, the only station to really gain was CBC.

‘Looking at all demos – 25 to 54, 18 to 49 and even 18 to 34 – the CBC share went up,’ she says. ‘That’s with the Olympics and their specials, such as the Trudeau special and Celine Dion special – but Hockey Night in Canada not included.’