Regional roundup

TORONTO

TORONTO

Context: In Canada’s most competitive market, floundering Toronto 1 hasn’t yet had time to form a distinct personality under new Quebecor ownership. It enters summer with a weak programming schedule and the loss of Monday Night Football to Citytv. The rumour mill says the station could be looking to make a program acquisition deal with another broadcaster.

On the positive side, Quebecor ownership opens the doors for cross-promotion with the Toronto Sun and its free daily, 24 Hours. Quebecor also owns TVA, the leading Quebec conventional broadcaster and a major producer of original programming in the market. Steve Aronovitch, broadcast investment manager at Toronto-based Starcom Worldwide, views the Quebecor ownership favourably and says the only way is up for Toronto 1.

‘They’re still a niche station so they’re not going be a top programming station. Essentially [Craig] was all over the place with [them.] Quebecor is not the same, it’s tighter and they will continue to improve in terms of program performance.’

Although there isn’t a CHUM New Net in Toronto proper, there is spillover from the New VR in Barrie. Some buyers don’t think the rebranding of these stations to A-Channel is a good idea because the name hasn’t much equity in Ontario and hasn’t been much of a moneymaker for the western stations.

Meanwhile, Florence Ng, VP broadcast at ZenithOptimedia in Toronto, says CTV had a strong season with its returning shows as well as with its new shows – and its aggressive ad rates reflected this. However, high ad rates and declining audiences continue to drive ad dollars to specialties and, Ng points outs that in the fall of 2004 some specialties were actually sold out.

‘This is something conventionals need to be aware of. There is only so much we can cope with in terms of increases. If they’re affordable, dollars can be allocated elsewhere.’

2005/06 strategy: Once again, going into fall Global faces the challenge of finding some new programming to appeal to young adult demos. Everybody Loves Raymond is gone and Joey is far from being another Friends, but Survivor and The Apprentice still draw good numbers. Interestingly, Global seems to have seen the writing on the wall for reality. It has put some onto its summer sked but going into fall will be bringing back tried-and-true programming and a hefty slate of scripted programming that is heavy on the drama side.

In Ontario and Victoria, B.C., CHUM’s rebranding of its New stations to A-Channels will involve more than a new look. Ellen Baine, VP of programming for CHUM Television, says the primary demo will still be adults 25-54 but new programming will likely be a little more family-focused rather than the action/adventure fare of the past.

‘It was easy in the beginning when we started with Hercules and Xena. [Today] we’re going to try to target audiences with more of a family attitude. That seems to be an under-serviced market in many ways.’ She says CHUM already has a start with shows like Everwood and consistent performer 7th Heaven, which now has been on air longer than Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons, and has a following of very loyal viewers.

Show offerings: The lineup for Global and CH features 11 new dramas including Prison Break (Fox); the new Jerry Bruckheimer series E-Ring (Warner Bros.); and the thriller Fathom (NBC/Universal). CanWest has also signed nine new comedy series including My Name is Earl (Fox); War at Home (Warner Bros.); and Out of Practice starring Henry Winkler and Stockard Channing (CBS/Paramount); along with Old Christine and How I Met Your Mother.

Toronto 1 is revitalizing its schedule with a classic TV block between noon and 2 p.m. with Family Affair, Leave It To Beaver, and Baretta starring the infamous Robert Blake. At 5:30 p.m., family favourite Home Improvement with Tim Allen is on the menu followed by Girlfriends, which currently airs on BET.

Mondays at 9 p.m. Charmed is on the list with Prime Ticket Movies continuing on the roster. The A List returns but moves from 30 minutes to one hour, weeknights.

Toronto 1 also plans to add other new afternoon blocks, some reality shows, and three new talk shows to its schedule.

Toronto
CTV Toronto 17.6
CIII (Global) 9.2
CITYtv 5.6
CHCH 4.1
CBLT (CBC) 3.8
CKVR 2.2
CKXT (Toronto 1) 1.5
CFMT (Omni 1) 0.9
CJMT (Omni 2) 0.8
Source: BBM Canada, 25-54 Audience, M-Su 8pm -11pm, 1/3/2005 to 5/29/2005

MONTREAL

Context: It’s mission accomplished for Radio-Canada Télévision in Montreal.

R-C’s three-year repositioning effort really took off last fall when it launched a new look for the station as well as an unprecedented 17 new programs. The strategy not only netted

R-C the number-one show in the market with weekly 90-minute entertainment extravaganza Tout le monde en parle (Everybody’s talking about it), but also moved the broadcaster up into a close second place behind TVA.

Of the top 20 programs in the market (viewers aged 2+), the split has R-C with nine and TVA with 11. ‘Judging from [R-C's] share of market, audiences really bought into what is going on,’ says Gloria Di Ioia, managing partner of Le Groupe TMC in Montreal.

‘The fall book indicated a substantial growth from the previous fall. There’s now about a five-point share gap between TVA and R-C where exactly a year ago, there had been an 18.7% share gap.’

While R-C’s programming schedule was extraordinary in terms of performance, Di Ioia says some of the share growth can be attributed to the lack of hockey. In Quebec, hockey is broadcast by sports specialty RDS; Without it, the share of overall specialty channel viewing in the market dropped from 25% to 20.8%, which is simply a reflection of the RDS decline.

Of the other major conventional in the market, TQS is a distant third, says Melody Daly, AOR broadcast supervisor at Marketel Media in Montreal, and is destined to stay in that position unless the broadcaster is able to come up with improved programming.

Reality programming continues to grow in Quebec and Daly says it shows no signs of slowing down. Some translated versions of U.S. reality shows like The Swan and The Biggest Loser have even made it to the market. Homemade fare such as Ma Maison RONA on TVA is currently number five on program list.

By English Canada standards, the three major conventionals each garner an incredibly large share of market. Daly says French-Canadians are more loyal to locally produced programming and their local stars than their English counterparts.

2005/06 strategy: Although the market and broadcasters such as TVA and R-C are known for their original productions, one trend has returned to the Quebec market – the broadcast of translated American programming. Daly says although this approach hasn’t done well in the past, R-C has put translations of Lost and Desperate Housewives on its spring schedule. Lost is number 10 in the top 20.

Show offerings: Radio-Canada is continuing to program on the basis of three seasons – fall, winter-spring and summer – launching a new series of shows in the fall, January and specifically for summer with a grid featuring virtually no reruns. The broadcaster is going into fall 2005 with a strong cushion of successful programming – none of it reality-based – from last year’s introduction of 17 new shows.

Amongst the programs returning is the entertainment show that went to number one in the ratings, Tout le monde en parle, as well as drama series Providence and L’auberge du chien nois. Returning comedy offerings include Les Bougon, Rumours and two that debuted in winter, Cover Girl and Minuit, le soir.

One of the shows new to the roster is the gritty one-hour Fugitive-type drama Au nom de la loi (In the Name of the Law). Other newcomers include a one-hour comedy/drama called Les Invincibles and a new 11 p.m. sports-theme talk show scheduled to run daily Monday through Friday.

TVA, meanwhile, is bringing back top prime-time fare including its blockbuster Star Academie 2005, comedy Km/h and Histoires

de filles.

At TQS, dubbed versions of U.S. reality programs Temptation Island II and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy will join a roster of Quebec-produced reality, such as homemade versions of the Bachelor, Loft Story II, Des gens pas ordinaires (The Surreal Life), and Transformation extreme (Extreme Makeover).

U.S. movies including action films and chick flicks will round out the schedule.

Says Claude Deraiche, director of PR and communications: ‘We tend to be younger than TVA and R-C. We’re focusing on 25 to 39. That’s our core and we try to offer programming that excites them.’

Montreal
TVA 29.3
SRC 23.6
TQS 11.5
Télé-Québec 3.2
Source: BBM Canada, 25-54 Audience, M-Su 8pm -11pm, 1/3/2005 to 5/29/2005

CALGARY/EDMONTON

Context: Last year at this time, regional buyers were looking forward to the purchase of Craig Media by CHUM Television and an improved program schedule for the A-Channels in those cities.

Today buyers say the stations need better rating points and an affordable, effective environment for local and regional advertisers. Unfortunately CRTC approval came too late for there to be any impact this past season. Andrew McFallon, a principal at Anderson McFallon in Calgary, says CHUM really needs to do something with its new stations going into this fall because A-Channel has flat-lined.

Nonetheless, this market remains hot, just behind Ontario in its importance to national buyers who quickly snap up the best availability before even looking at Vancouver.

The reason: there are fewer stations to choose from. This demand, resulting cost pressures and lack of avails have driven many regional advertisers out of the medium.

But Kathy Shapka, VP media director for DDB Canada in Edmonton, says she doesn’t believe there’s going to be the same demand as seen in the last couple of years.

To beat the rush and get some price protection, she began buying fall in early May without knowing the programming schedules and was surprised at how reasonable the rate increases – ranging from 2% to 6% – were compared to about the 30% that broadcasters were looking for in each of the previous five seasons.

Buyers who didn’t get a head start may be faced with higher price tags because CTV’s strong performance in the latest ratings book would justify bigger increases. And, Shapka adds, even with revamped, rebranded

A-Channels, CHUM will initially have a hard time coming into the market with no history based on past performance.

2005/06 strategy: CHUM will launch rebranding efforts that will see the six stations in its New network change to A-Channels, while the A-Channels in Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg are being given the Citytv treatment in terms of branding, programming, and focus on local news and involvement.

CHUM’s Baine says the rebranding will begin in August with a new on-air look. The revamp will be particularly evident for local news and will include a change in the composition of the reporters to better reflect the urban centres.

Show offerings: CHUM’s 11 new dramas and nine comedies are expected to add some sparkle to the new fall season. Likewise, Global and CTV will be battling for first place with schedules that are rather heavy on scripted dramas.

Edmonton
CFRN+ (CTV) 19.3
CITV (Global) 9.3
CBXT (CBC) 4.3
CKEM 3.0
Calgary
CFCN+ (CTV) 23.3
CICT (Global) 9.8
CBRT (CBC) 4.8
CKAL 4.4
Source: BBM Canada, 25-54 Audience, M-Su 8pm -11pm, 1/3/2005 to 5/29/2005

VANCOUVER

Context: Vancouver is simmering but not as hot as it was prior to the addition of the two CHUM stations. There are now more choices for advertisers and less demand. While there has been no significant deflation, inventory is generally available and costs have not increased to the same extent as Calgary.

The CHUM rebranding is expected to have little effect on the New VI in Victoria, which some buyers say is weak and likely to remain so.

Rick Sanderson, former TBWAVancouver media director now GM of OMD Vancouver, says this will cause some confusion at first but doesn’t expect it to be too much of a problem since the province has experienced a lot of shakeup on the TV dial over the past few years. As in the rest of Canada, Sanderson says the loss of hockey has affected CBC – the only conventional net allowed to sell regionally – although its strategy of running Movie Night in Canada did a bit better than expected.

Global had been top station for many years but Angela Dong, associate media director at TBWAVancouver, says CTV is now in the number-one position, except for news where Global remains dominant at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.

2005/06 strategy: Global’s new programming has the network going head-to-head with CTV with a fall roster that’s heavy on scripted dramas, a tactic that helped build CTV to ratings powerhouse status.

Curiously, when it comes to its number two status in Vancouver news, Robert Hurst, CTV’s president of news, says it will continue doing what it has been doing and not make any changes that would mess with its successes.

Hurst points out that while it may not be number one in news, there has been some success. Three years ago VTV News was last in the market but today CTV British Columbia has grown to be a strong and clear number two.

Meanwhile CHUM is portraying its nearly national network status with some better quality new U.S. programming.

Show offerings: Programming on CHUM stations will be similar in every market. In Victoria, A-Channel will fall into step with sister stations in Ontario, Alberta, and Manitoba with a family-friendly approach. Likewise, new shows on Global and CTV will reflect the national grid.

Vancouver
CIVT (CTV) 18.0
CHAN (Global) 11.3
CHEK (CH) 5.0
CBUT (CBC) 4.9
CKVU (Citytv) 4.9
CIVI 3.3
CHNM 0.4
Source: BBM Canada, 25-54 Audience, M-Su 8pm -11pm, 1/3/2005 to 5/29/2005