Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Global Fires Demo Numbers Back at CBC

The Canadian network spin war just lurched into overdrive. The Global PR department has answered yesterday's CBC claim with a few numbers of their own.
As pointed out here yesterday, CBC's press release claiming it had surpassed Global this season in the ratings was true only if you accepted their very selective parameters of what constitutes a season.
While it admits it was damaged by the lack of original imports thanks to the writers strike,
Global claims it still beat CBC during weeks six through 32 among the only demo that matters to advertisers, 18-49-year-old viewers.
From Oct. 7, 2007, to April 6, 2008, claims Global, it averaged an 8.2 share of the total English language TV audience in Canada, compared to CBC's 6.2 share. Take that, Sophie and The Border.
Still, Global's own numbers show the extent of the damage the strike inflicted on its schedule. The private network sank to a 5.9 share among total viewers in January, just as CBC was boosted to a 6.8 share with the launch of new shows like The Week The Women Went and resurgent ratings for old favorites Rick Mercer and Little Mosque.
What is also interesting is the spike in CBC ratings last December, before the new shows launched in January. While Global ratings plunged 31% year to year down to a dismal 6.2 share, CBC soared to a 9 share on the strength of old reliable Christmas specials. CBC even beat Global among 18-49-year-olds in December, with shares of 8.3 and 7.3 of that audience respectively.
Global's troubles, therefore, started before the strike effect played out. Did fumbling that valuable NFL package to CTV, especially during that exciting, almost-perfect Patriots run, throw Global for a loss? As has been pointed out here before, losing NFL football, one of the few 18-49-year-old male magnets left in television, was a game changer this season, almost as big a factor as the 100-day writers strike. With Sunday night football games, CTV landed in the Canadian Top-30 consistently during the dark days of January when the import episode shelves were otherwise bare.
The good news for Global is that those old favorite U.S. shows have roared back in the last week or so. At the same time, CBC has dipped to its lowest viewing levels of the season, down to a 4.4 share among 18-49-years olds on the April 6 data (from BBM/NMR). Global's demo share that same week was nearly twice that at 8.2. No wonder CBC rushed their release out yesterday.
Leading the way was the return of Bones on April 14, drawing 1,265,000 viewers, up 54% since the fall in total viewers and 52% in the 18-49 demo. In two airings this month, The Office has roared back with an average of 816,000 viewers, up 33% year-to-year and a bit better than that in the demo. The three new episodes of My Name Is Earl have boosted that series to a double digit increase off its year ago average. NCIS, the hit show everybody forgets, has come back bigger than ever for Global, drawing 1,518,000 April 15, up 7% from last fall.
Sunday's return of Brothers & Sisters was also up 10% from last September, drawing 697,000 viewers. Old favorite Boston Legal still has fans, with an average of 788,000 catching the two new episodes this month, way, way up from last fall.
The big show, House, returns Monday with the first of four new epiosdes. Global needs this show like Dr. House needs Vicodin. A 2.5 million hit would help ease the pain of a nightmare winter, but opposite CTV's Dancing With The Stars, the good doc has his work cut out for him.
Global can thank House's London, Ont.-born creator and showrunner David Shore for tossing them this four episode life preserver. Fox originally wanted to rest House until the fall, but as Shore told me yesterday, he insisted on being able to finish up a season where he had pretty much reinvented the drama. With Global already having to carry on without Heroes until September and 24 until January, the loss of House would have really hurt.
Meanwhile, CTV, which trounced both these also rans in the Canadian ratings game, has been uncharacteristically quiet. Where's the usual "We beat both these guys put together Nya Nya Nya" release? A search of the high road has so far revealed nothing.
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