Specialty continues its climb

Successful programming decisions and some savvy marketing - to both TV viewers and media buyers - have some specialty stations sitting pretty this year. Of course, one should also never underestimate the power of cheaper rates.

Successful programming decisions and some savvy marketing – to both TV viewers and media buyers – have some specialty stations sitting pretty this year. Of course, one should also never underestimate the power of cheaper rates.

The channels up the dial continue to narrow the ad spend margin versus conventional. Not surprisingly, says Dennis Dinga, VP, director of broadcast buying at M2 Universal, in Toronto, that trend has been fueled primarily by conventional broadcasting’s bullish rates. In fact, the TV buy for some clients has gone 100% specialty TV over the last year, says Marilyn Sherman, EVP media at Toronto’s Echo Advertising, citing BMG Music as an example. It is a move driven largely by the client’s limited budget.

However, select specialties have come into their own of late, according to pundits, with smart program selections and proactive efforts aimed at the buying community.

‘Discovery is one that continues to do an amazing job of understanding what its viewers want – building a relationship with them and keeping them coming back,’ says Theresa Treutler, SVP corporate media director at Doner Canada, Toronto. ‘It has really grown its male viewership in particular.’

The science, technology and adventure station, has changed its programming genre to what Helena Shelton, VP broadcast operations for MBS/The Media Company, calls ‘reality-for-men’ programming, featuring shows like American Hot Rod and Monster Garage. ‘It’s really worked for them,’ she adds. ‘[Discovery] has experienced one of the biggest increases in terms of a station that has done the best year-over-year. They are up 36% on adults 25-54 in terms of share increase.’

Along with the sports specialties (TSN, which leads the pack; and Sportsnet, which Treutler says has been gaining ground thanks in part to its ability to program regionally), Showcase has also managed to attract the hard-to-reach male audience. She cites movies and some of the late-night fare, with distinctly adult appeal, as key drivers.

W Network continues to make great strides, says Treutler, particularly in understanding and identifying with viewers. But perhaps this year’s Cinderella story, according to Shelton, is CMT. ‘It tanked last year. It was dying. But they seemed to have figured it out and corrected it – it’s up 40% [among adults 25 to 54].’

Almost unanimously, Alliance Atlantis gets top votes for marketing to media folk. ‘Alliance Atlantis has definitely won that game. They are definitely very aggressive in their marketing and communications to buyers and clients, and they’ve managed to sell themselves very well,’ says Shelton.

‘Specialty is no longer second rate, or an after-thought in terms of buying,’ she adds. ‘They’ve come a long way and it really boils down to their programming.’

What’s new for the fall

The top 15 English analogues

Channels are ranked by 6 a.m. – 6 a.m. average-minute audience,

adults 18-plus, during the weeks from Oct. 6, 2003 to May 9, 2004. Share percentages indicate share of total 18-plus TV viewing

universe (French and English). All audience data is from

Nielsen Media Research.

TSN (The Sports Network)

(Bell Globemedia)

Average-minute audience: 99,000 (2.2% share)

Target demo: Adults 25 to 54

Selected advertisers: Lipton, Rona, Microsoft, Sony, Castrol

New shows:

* Approximately 100 NHL games, including 73 regular season and the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs, as well as 25 regional Maple Leafs games.

* 2005 IIHF World Junior Hockey coverage from North Dakota in late December/early January.

* Fifty regular-season CFL games including Wendy’s Friday Night Football, Wendy’s CFL Live games during the week, 15 pre-game shows and six doubleheaders.

* Coverage of 25 NFL games, every Sunday night match-up, the Pro-Bowl, the 2005 NFL Draft, NFL Countdown (a two-hour preview of the week’s action), and NFL Primetime (a one-hour highlight show airing just prior to the Sunday game coverage).

* More than 460 hours of golf including The PGA Tour, Champions Tour and LPGA Tour, as well as the 100th Bell Canadian Open, AT&T Pebble Beach, The PLAYERS Championship, and all four World Majors.


(Bell Globemedia)

Average-minute audience: 57,000 (1.3% share)

Target demo: Adults 25 to 54

Selected advertisers: Toyota, General Motors, Hyundai,

DaimlerChrysler, Wal-Mart, Gillette, Alticor, MasterCard, Procter & Gamble, Kraft, Honda

Show highlights:

* Ultimate Survival: Everest – a six-part mini-series documentary looking at the trials of climbing the world’s highest mountain.

* Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation – the world’s first call-in sex advice show for all creatures great and small.

* Motorcycle Mania 3 – Jesse James mounts his two-wheeled steed to tell his own ‘a year in the life of….’

* Sex Files – the fourth season continues to take a lighthearted but sound, scientific look at various aspects of sex.


(Alliance Atlantis Broadcasting)

Average-minute audience: 51,000 (1.1% share)

Target demo: Adults 18 to 49

Selected advertisers: Future Shop, KFC, Firestone,

Chevrolet, Pepsi

New shows:

* MDA – a drama series about doctors accused of wrongdoing and the medical defence team that works to protect them (nominated for Best Drama at the 2003 Emmy Awards).

* Paradise Falls – the 26-episode Showcase original chronicles the tale of murder, mystery and steamy love affairs in a quaint Northern Ontario town.

What else is new:

* Specials include Final Demand – the world of a downtrodden woman comes further undone when she’s faced with tragedy – and Wire in The Blood 2, a four-part series that follows Dr. Tony Hill as he investigates suspicious, often ghastly murders.

* Films for the Showcase Revue include Y Tu Mamá También, Donnie Darko, and Rounders.

Rogers Sportsnet National

(Rogers [80%] and Fox [20%])

Average-minute audience: 51,000 (1.1% share)

Target demo: Adults 18 to 49, skewing male

Selected advertisers: Heart and Stroke Lottery, Labatt, Tim Hortons

New shows:

* CFL Crunch hosted by Namugenyi Kiwanuka

* Major League Baseball – Regular season and playoffs

* Bob McCown FAN590 simulcast

* Team-specific editions of Hockeycentral (Canucks/Oilers/ Flames/Maple Leafs/Senators/Canadiens)



Average-minute audience: 47,000 (1.0% share)

Target demo: Adults 25 to 53

Selected advertisers: Firestone, Chevrolet, Right Guard

New shows:

* Battlestar Galactica – based on a recent mini-series, this one-hour dramatic series is a re-imagination of the sci-fi cult classic adventure of a ragtag fleet of humans and their one remaining warship.

* The 4400 – a six-episode series about the mysterious return of 4400 people previously reported missing or presumed dead.

* Steve Smith Playhouse – Canadian comedian Steve Smith takes a B movie and, through the magic of editing and audio substitution, cuts the film down to a 30-minute television show, replacing the lead actor’s voice with his own.

* 11 Somerset – teen sleuths confront the supernatural in this 13-episode half-hour series shot in Montreal.

What else is new:

* Returning shows include The Collector, Enterprise, The Dead Zone as well as the 3rd Annual Spaceys.

History Television

(Alliance Atlantis Broadcasting)

Average-minute audience: 45,000 (1.0% share)

Target demo: Adults 25 to 54

Selected advertisers: Toyota, Stella Artois, Scotia McLeod, Sears Canada

New shows:

* Tactical to Practical – new series that explores innovations developed for military combat which have evolved into useful tools for civilian life.

* Barbarians – aided by cinematic re-creations, this series tells the stories of the Vikings, Goths, Mongols and Huns.

* Crime Stories – this original series takes viewers behind the scenes of intriguing crimes in Canadian history.

* Russia Land of the Tsars – documentary mini-series examines the leaders of Russia from the Vikings to the Communist Revolution.

* For King and Country – military historian Norm Christie travels to Canadian battlefields, monuments and cemeteries throughout the world.

* Medieval Monarchs – Dr. David Starkley travels back though the history of the British monarchy.

What else is new:

* New movies include Casino, Heat, Cool Hand Luke, Enemy at the Gate, and Dragon: the Bruce Lee Story.



Average-minute audience: 44,000 (1.0% share)

Target demo: Adults 25 to 54

Selected advertisers: Saturn, Tropicana, Sheraton Hotels, Standard Life

New shows:

* Murder 19C: Detective Murdoch Mysteries – Bravo!’s second film based on Maureen Jenning’s popular novels set in Victorian Toronto.

* Bathroom Divas (working title) – neophyte opera singers from all over get a chance to become the ultimate ‘bathroom diva’ in this all-new Canadian series.

* The Colours of Celtic – a lively music documentary that celebrates Cape Breton’s cultural roots.

* Tomson Highway Gets His Trout – a documentary that takes audiences backstage at the world premiere of an important stage play.

What else is new:

* Bravo! continues to air HBO original movies every Friday night, including new titles Citizen X, The Terry Fox Story, The Heist and My House in Umbria.


(CanWest Global)

Average-minute audience: 43,000 (1.0% share)

Target demo: Women 25 to 54

Selected advertisers: Government of Canada, Aspirin, Wal-Mart, Swiss Chalet

New shows:

* Open Homes – every week a team of design experts (with cameras in tow) visit two homeowners selling their homes, and introduce some unique ideas to increase the value of the properties in one day.

* Great Taste/No Money – host Stephen Fermoyle offers viewers great design do’s and don’ts to fit their budgets.

* Antique Hunter – travel the back roads of North America in search of true antique treasures and collectibles.

* Room to Grow – gardening series designed to help viewers transform their gardens on budget.

CBC Newsworld


Average-minute audience: 40,000 (0.9% share)

Target demo: Adults 25 to 54

Selected advertisers: Scotia McLeod, Honda, Lakota, SuperPages, Gold Bond

New shows:

* CBC News: Correspondent – a new weekly foreign affairs program, featuring hour-long documentaries from CBC correspondents as well as independent producers.

* CBC News: Face to Face – a new short-run interview series featuring in-depth and hard-hitting interviews by experienced correspondents and interviewers.

* Au Courant – new weekly series based in Montreal will explore and explain the stories and issues that are dominating conversations in francophone Canada.

What else is new:

* CBC News: Morning – the morning program will expand to seven days a week.

* Documentary festival Cinema Real returns for a second season with a record number of new Canadian documentaries.

* Extra full hours of live programming on the weekend

* Joint programming initiatives with CBC Radio, such as Canada Reads, selected simulcasts of Cross Country Checkup and joint specials such as Fresh Voice and the Massey and Baldwin/La Fontaine Lectures.

W Network

(Corus Entertainment)

Average-minute audience: 34,000 (0.8% share)

Target demo: Women 25 to 54

Selected advertisers: Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, Nestlé, Kraft, Procter & Gamble, SC Johnson, Sears, HBC, L’Oréal, Pepsi

New shows:

* Take This House and Sell It – half-hour reality series, hosted by Kimberly Carroll, provides the latest tips and trends on getting one’s home ready for sale.

* Heartbeats (working title) – dramatic reality series follows a handful of courageous women through their struggle with often life-threatening illnesses.

* Style By Jury (working title) – makeover series that focuses on first impressions.

What else is new:

* New episodes of returning series including: Arresting Design, Decorating Challenge, Divine Design, Gardening Gamble and The Shopping Bags.

HGTV Canada

(Alliance Atlantis Broadcasting)

Average-minute audience: 30,000 (0.7% share)

Target demo: Adults 25 to 54/Women 25-54

Selected advertisers: Home Depot, Pepsi, Dreamworks, Kraft, Dawn

New shows:

* Kitchen Equipped – 36-part series that shares the recipe for planning, accessorizing and building the perfect kitchen.

* Design Inc. – new series reveals the inner workings of a bustling interior design firm.

* Designed to Sell – series that turns rundown homes into showpieces by giving sellers a $2,000 budget and a team of experts to transform their house.

* Designer Finals – in each episode, a student from a top design school is given the real-world opportunity to redo a room in a client’s house.

What else is new:

* Design Rivals – Designer Guys Steven Sabados and Chris Hyndman are back offering ideal design solutions to clients.

* Home to Go for the Holidays – one-hour special works with singles, roommates and a young couple to create four contemporary holiday looks.


(Corus Entertainment)

Average-minute audience: 29,000 (0.6% share)

Target demo: Adults 25 to 54

Selected advertisers: Kraft, Johnson & Johnson, General Motors, L’Oréal, Wal-Mart, Sears Canada, Pfizer, McCain Foods

New shows:

* Four Strong Winds – eight-part documentary series celebrates Canada’s singer/songwriters and the impact they’ve had on popular music.

* CMT Star – fast-paced lifestyle series focuses on the passions and pastimes of country superstars.

* Not Your Daddy’s Country – mini-series profiles three artists who are on the way up.

* Country’s Most Shocking – five-part series reveals the tragic heartbreak behind country music’s most compelling dramas.

What else is new:

* CMT Central – a source for country entertainment news, music and stars returns for a second season.

* CMT broadcasts of the major award shows including the Country Music Association Awards, CMT Flameworthy Awards, Canadian Country Music Awards and the Academy of Country Music Awards.

* All Through the Night – a one-hour musical Christmas special chronicles Jason McCoy’s endeavour to record a Christmas CD live.


(Corus Entertainment)

Average-minute audience: 26,000 (0.6% share)

Target demo: Kids 2 to 11 and their families

Selected advertisers: Mattel, General Mills, Hasbro, Kraft, Buena Vista

New shows:

* 15/Love – edgy teen tennis drama about coming of age in a fishbowl of raw ambition, talent and hormones.

* Drake & Josh – the live-action story of an odd couple of teen stepbrothers

* Dark Oracle – live-action/animation series follows the lives of 15-year-old fraternal twins, Cally and Lance Stone.

* Danny Phantom – animated adventure series of a half ghost teen phantom-fighter with superpowers who saves the world while surviving the daily social hurdles of ninth grade.

* Mischief City – animated tale about the adventures of eight-year-old Winchell in the wild and whimsical world of Mischief City.

What else is new:

* Several live-action and animated series will launch in winter/spring 2005 including, Spy Academy, Being Ian, Flat!, and Brady’s Beasts.

The Comedy Network


Average-minute audience: 24,000 (0.5% share)

Target demo: Adults 18 to 49

Selected advertisers: Sony Pictures, Coca-Cola, Canadian Tire, Molson, Sony Interactive, Pfizer, Labatt, and Pepsi


* Buzz – Comedy Network original series embarks on a cross-country farewell tour for its sixth and final season

* Kevin Spencer – the Comedy Network original series kicks off its seventh season on the network with a special premiere episode that guest stars Sum 41 and Treble Charger.

* Returning original series also include: Puppets Who Kill, Odd Job Jack, Corner Gas, Comedy Now! Comedy Inc., and Canadian Comedy Shorts.

* Returning acquired series include: Chapelle’s Show, The Simpsons, South Park, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

The Weather Network

(Pelmorex Inc.)

Average-minute audience: 23,000 (0.5% share)

Target demo: Adults 25 to 54

and 18 to 49

Selected advertisers: Glad, Claritin, Infinity, Canadian Tire, Campbell, Toyota, General Motors


* News segments will focus even more on active weather coverage that is affecting local communities across Canada along with The Weather Network’s special Storm Watch coverage, which is activated when the weather turns especially bad.

* Accurate, local forecasts – broadcast every ten minutes on the ’10s’

* Highway Conditions – be prepared with coverage of highway conditions coast to coast.

* Ski Report – find out how much and how good the snow will be for local and national ski destinations.

The top 5 French analogues

Channels are ranked by 6 a.m. – 6 a.m. average minute audience, adults 18-plus, during the weeks from Oct. 6, 2003 to May 9, 2004. Share percentages indicate share of total 18-plus English and French TV viewing universe. All audience data is from Nielsen Media Research.


(Bell Globemedia)

Average-minute audience: 38,000 (0.9% share)

Target demo: Adults 18 to 49

New shows:

* Le Repêchage Bell – the French version of the reality show Making the Cut, where hundreds of hockey players from all over Canada get a chance to show what they can do in front of professional scouts.

* Hockey – pre- and post-game shows; exclusive coverage of all the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens games; as well as games featuring top NHL teams – over 100 games in total throughout the season. Stanley Cup Playoff games will also be broadcast.

* Formula One racing – comprehensive coverage from both qualifying and race events, including CHAMP CAR and NASCAR.

* Football – 18 Montreal Alouettes games from July to November, as well as CFL Playoffs and Grey Cup coverage. More NFL games than ever before, including playoff coverage and the Super Bowl. College football rounds out the season’s coverage, with the Mitchell Bowl, Churchill Bowl, Vanier Cup and seven Quebec division regular season games of the CIS.

* Golf – more than 300 hours of golf, including coverage of all four Majors (The Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, PGA Championship), along with a full schedule of additional tour events.

* Tennis – coverage from all four Grand Slams (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open). RDS will also televise both national events (Canada Master Series in Toronto and Rogers AT&T Cup in Montreal).

* Sports 30, the award-winning half-hour sports news show, returns for another season.


(Astral Media/Alliance Atlantis)

Average-minute audience: 35,000 (0.8% share)

Target demo: Women 25 to 54

New shows:

* Spy Girls (French title to be confirmed) – the adventures of three beautiful, athletic and gifted female ex-cons as they take on the real bad guys.

* Les Soeurs Mcleod – Two half-sisters, recently reunited, overcome personal differences and family stresses to re-establish the family business in this dramatic Australian series.

* Simplement Zoe – faced with the death of her sister, Zoe grapples to maintain her career while taking care of her nieces and nephew in this touching drama.

* Ed – from the creators of the Late Show with David Letterman, Ed Stevens rediscovers his childhood town, as well as his first love, in this romantic comedy.

What else is new:

* More episodes of Les Sopranos (The Sopranos), Six Pieds Sous Terre (Six Feet Under) and Les Experts (CSI).

Canal D

(Astral Media)

Average-minute audience: 29,000 (0.6% share)

Target demo: Adults 25 to 54

New shows:

* Fallait y penser – the host couple explore the popular science of everyday items, such as deodorant and shower curtains, in this science series.

* Fous du risque – Quebec risk takers push themselves to the limit in various sports and activities in this 11-episode series hosted by Pierre Page.

* Matiere à enquete – with the help of the Montreal police, host Roger Léger uncovers the fascinating world of deception in this série noire documentary series.

* Les coulisses du hockey – explore the personal, behind-the-scenes side of professional hockey with host Pierre Houde.

* Un tueur si proche – 10 murder cases from the annals of the Canadian justice system are analyzed to try to understand what triggered the event.

* De Nouvelles Biographies – biographies of some of Quebec’s household names: Jacques Mesrine, Gilbert Rozon, Marie-Soleil Tougas, Scotty Bowman and Martin Matte among others.

What else is new:

* Theme nights on Canal D including: Treacherous Tuesdays (documentaries on the dangers that threaten our lives); Docu-Crime Fridays (classics like American Justice, Autopsy, The New Detectives); and Comedy Show Saturdays (shows, galas and comedies with the most popular comics in Quebec).

Réseau de l’Info

(Societé Radio-Canada)

Average-minute audience: 29,000 (0.6% share)

Target demo: Adults 25 to 54

New shows:

* Not yet announced.

Canal Vie

(Astral Media)

Average-minute audience: 23,000 (0.5% share)

Target demo: Women 25 to 54

New shows:

* Le Grand ménage (The Big Cleaning) – Hostess Sophie Chiasson and a professional organizer help a couple reorganize a messy room to help maximize space.

* Guy Corneau…en toute confidence (Guy Corneau…confidentially) – renowned psychoanalyst Guy Corneau helps viewers find the right track to a better life using real-life examples.

* Dr. Nadia – new service program that provides help to parents who grapple with early childhood problems.

* Cadeaux 100% récup (100% Recovery Presents) create personalized gifts made of vintage objects or materials with the help of the show.

What else is new:

* New programming for winter and spring of 2005 includes: Conciliation travail-famille (Work & Family Reconciliation) and Terrasses et balcons – L’espace d’un été (Terraces & Balconies – Within A Summer).

* Canal Vie’s classic programming will still feature: Décore ta vie (Decorate Your Life); Métamorphose (Metamorphosis); and Nicolas et moi (Nicolas & I).