Thursday, February 14, 2008

MVP Needs Performance Enhancement

CBC's sexy new hockey wives drama is simply not scoring with viewers.
MVP's second Tuesday outing netted just 221,000 viewers, down from last Tuesday and down from the sorry numbers in its original Friday night timeslot. There was no new episode of House on Global this week, either, just the premiere of Big Brother (917,000). The timeslot killer was CTV's two-hour American Idol, which drew 2,605,000.

Does CBC dare move this show again? Wednesday nights would seem to offer a less competitive timeslot. Look for them to try one more shift--there's a lot invested in MVP billboards, subway posters and TV and radio promotion across Canada.

Why has MVP failed to gain a foothold? Some critics love the show. Here's my theory based on nothing: Canadians aren't quite comfortable with the concept of Victoria Beckham-style glamour and sleaze grafted onto our pure as snow game. In a perfect Don Cherry world, real hockey wives are fund raisers and loyal supporters, not bed hopping bimbos. Players are good Canadian boys from Kingston, not randy porn dogs. Leave all that sullied sports saga to tarnished baseball hurler Roger Clemens and his HGH-enhanced missus.

Viewers who could care less about any sports or hockey connection can find their trashy fix on Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy or a half dozen other big budget U.S. shows. Even though MVP looks sexy and slick, it can't break out as a guilty pleasure against habitual viewing of frothy American fare. Plus it might have helped if there was one or two big name stars on MVP to snare viewers who aren't into either hockey or sex (oops, sorry, those would be TVO viewers).
The numbers are also starting to tilt the wrong way on Monday nights for another new CBC drama, The Border, down to 494,000 this week, despite an incredibly timely episode about illegal organ harvesting. This series hit 760,000 just a few weeks ago. Maybe it's that whole bizarre Sophia-Milos-gets-a-Banff-lifetime-achievement-award head scratcher.
The new CBC reality show The Week The Women Went drew 687,000 the same night, remarkable when you consider it has now officially become THE DULLEST TV SHOW EVER MADE. This week it was 44 minutes of some guy cooking hamburger. Would the kids get hamburger or steak? Would beer be consumed? Real edge of your seat stuff. No wonder the women left.

At 10 on Monday, the season debut of Jericho, which did not do that well in the States, drew 847,000 on CTV. Global's The Guard held steady at 538,000 Tuesday. Degrassi The Lost Generation was down to 407,000. More people live in Brampton, Ont.

As for The Border, there are reports that the action hour has been shopped to a number of U.S. networks, including CBS and TNT. But are Americans really going to buy a series that shows them in a less than flattering light? There has been some debate here in the press (especially in a Robert Fulford column in the National Post) and certainly on other sites about the anti-American button-pushing on this series. While it probably scores with a new generation of flag waving Canadians, portraying Yanks as condescending world cops may be too tough a sell to the folks at CBS Paramount. Just a thought.

The Border's future looks more secure in Canada. All that appears to be holding up an official renewal order for next season for The Border and Sophie are MVP's crummy numbers--the network would dearly love to spin this as a three out of four success story (with fellow January start up jPod's renewal now seen as a long shot at best).
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