Primetime faceoff: CTV carves out co-viewing

With U.S. creators switching the times of three top shows, the curveballs take centre stage in the broadcaster's new strategy.
When it comes to the fight for nighttime supremacy, each of the four major networks has a plan of attack. This week, we’ve broken down the game plans of Rogers, Shaw and CBC, with today’s installment on CTV capping off the series.

CTV was dealt three curveballs out of the gate at this year’s L.A. Screenings buying period, when The Big Bang Theory, The Amazing Race and Grey’s Anatomy, three of the network’s top shows, were moved to new days and times by their U.S. creators.

Mike Cosentino, SVP of programming at CTV Networks, says those moves formed the basis of the channel’s strategy going into the new season, with The Amazing Race‘s move from Sunday nights to Friday at 8 p.m. helping to carve out a new nightly co-viewing hour for families in the time slot.

Monday night at 8 p.m. has new Batman origin drama Gotham (pictured) after The Big Bang Theory in its new pre-simulcast spot at 7:30 p.m. CTV’s hit laugher from CBS will sit in the new spot for the first five weeks of the season while the U.S. broadcaster has it shifted from Thursdays for the NFL. Following Gotham is CTV’s second new drama of the night, Forever, about a man who can’t die.

Cosentino says Gotham and another newly-acquired legal drama Shonda Rhimes’ How to Get Away with Murder will be the channel’s priorities this fall, with the Batman-based drama and Big Bang‘s pre-simulcast move getting big marketing pushes ahead of launch.

Tuesday’s 8 p.m. co-viewing slot goes to another “super” addition to the schedule, The Flash, followed by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in its new hour at 9 p.m. The sophomore season of the Marvel show will be subbed out for the launch of Agent Carter partway through the season and then go back to new S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes to round out the year.

Working the lineup so shows drop off and are replaced, as opposed to airing repeats, is a new strategy for the Bell Media channel. Phil King, president, CTV sports and entertainment programming, says the goal is to keep old episodes of shows, which lose viewers now more so than ever before, off the schedule.

Wednesday at 10 p.m. also features the split strategy with Grey’s Anatomy starting the year in its new time slot in the fall before switching to a new arc of episodes from Canadian medical drama Saving Hope and then airing more Grey‘s to wrap up the conventional season.

New-to-CTV comedy The Millers comes to the channel at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday nights, moving from Global to the Bell Media network. Two and a Half Men follows at 9 p.m. in its final season and a new time slot for the Ashton Kutcher-starring comedy. New family sitcom The McCarthys follows at 9:30 p.m. and recently-acquired drama How to Get Away with Murder bows at 10 p.m. for the first part of the season before switching to another new dramatic addition, Secrets and Lies (a different show from the one airing on CBC with the same name).

Friday at 8 p.m. is the new home for The Amazing Race, followed by Grimm, which stays in its 9 p.m. spot, with Blue Bloods airing at 10 p.m.

Sunday nights for the network have been reworked with NFL games added at 4 p.m., followed by the CTV National News at 7:30 p.m. and Once Upon a Time in its new co-viewing time slot at 8 p.m. Newly acquired from City, drama Resurrection comes to the channel at 9 p.m., rounding out the week.

CTV Two is anchored by The Voice, says Cosentino, which airs Monday and Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. He adds the channel has another co-viewing opportunity in MasterChef Junior, with the reality cooking show airing Friday at 8 p.m.