That’s television for you

It used to be easier. Back when there were only five stations to choose from the upfront was a big deal, but everyone knew how it worked, and once you knew the rules it was a fairly easy game. Now there's a bazillion channels, and the big three are only part of the picture.

It used to be easier. Back when there were only five stations to choose from the upfront was a big deal, but everyone knew how it worked, and once you knew the rules it was a fairly easy game.

Now there’s a bazillion channels, and the big three are only part of the picture. Not only do you have to decide which broadcast ponies to bet on, but how much money you should spend on broadcast altogether.

The U.S. nets know this, and as Janice Fish reports in our annual report from the New York upfront (page 18), several of them spent almost as much time convincing buyers to choose broadcast over specialty as they spent touting the many charms of their particular fall debuts.

And rightly so. As you can see for yourself on page 19, Canada’s top specialties have better quality programming than ever before, and higher audiences to show for it. These days, for instance, it’s not that unusual to see a new show like the The Collector hit the specialty circuit first (Space), then show up on the airwaves (on City).

If you’re not careful, you can lose your head in the hype, and that’s why Strategy MEDIA’s Fall TV Preview is back and better than ever before.

This year, we’ve cut through the fluff and presented exactly what you need. Our coverage includes knowledgeable analysis of the programming strategies in play at the major Canadian nets (see ‘The National View,’ page 6), a region-by-region breakdown for local advertisers (see ‘The Regional View,’ page 8), a spending forecast by product category (page 13), and a full listing of all the new shows, with informed commentary on whether they’ll be stars or dogs.

And for the first time this year, we’ve added even more context, with a look at how diverging U.S. and Canadian viewer tastes should affect the shows you chose to advertise in. Best of all, we hit the streets only two days after the last Canadian fall season presentation – our earliest yet, and much earlier than anyone else in Canada.

We know that there’s millions at stake, but we also know that for buyers and broadcasters alike, this time of year can be

strangely fun. Sure most of the shows will flop, the prices will be too high, and your stress level will go through the roof. But that’s television for you, and I’m not sure we’d want it any other way.

Duncan Hood, editor

Contents

the national view

chaotic skeds are the new norm 6

the regional view

a bit of a soft market, with some heat in the west 8

fall spend forecast

which product categories are up this year? 13

diverging tastes

the U.S.-Canada divide is growing, and it will affect how shows perform 16

report from New York

there was a little less boasting this year, except at NBC 18

the specialty channels

better programming and audience gains boost the top performers 19

the new shows

they’re all here, in alphabetical order by network, with the Strategy verdict 23

the fall 2004 grids

easy reference to see who’s programming what against whom 39