Tuesday, March 10, 2009

CBC Throws in Designer Towel on Steven and Chris

CBC announced today they were pulling the plug on their daytime lifestyles program Steven and Chris. The designer duo were coming in a poor third behind soaps and reruns on CTV and Global. A check of recent numbers showed the series pulling 59,000, 72,000, 83,000 across Canada at 2 p.m. E.T. in recent outings. Yesterday’s episode was up to 122,000 viewers (not 89,000 as erroneously reported here earlier), with 52,000 in the 25-54 demo.
CBC gave this deal a two year shot. Also getting the axe is Fashion File, which was down to 41,000 viewers Monday. That series lasted 19 seasons, 17 of them with Tim Blanks as host.
In her statement today, CBC programming boss Kirstine Layfield, who brought Steven Sabados and Chris Hyndman with her from her Alliance Atlantis programming days, blamed the economy for the demise of the show. That's a red herring we’re going to see more of in the coming weeks:
"Regretfully, as a result of our current financial situation, we have had to make the difficult decision that Steven and Chris will be on hiatus next season," said Layfield. "This is no reflection on either the hosts or the program; the show has seen increased viewership over the past year and Steven and Chris have a terrific relationship with their live studio audiences; we very much hope to continue to work with Steven and Chris in the future."
At least she didn't say Steven and Chris were "resting" as CTV did about Canadian Idol. Can't anybody just admit anymore that a show has simply run its course?
The fact is, low ratings sunk this show, just as it sinks every show eventually. CBC tried to keep it on the radar, hosting press launches on the set, but journos were as disinterested as viewers. Steven and Chris’ act always seemed more at home on the home and garden networks, less of a CBC fit. The lesson may be don’t try to fight specialty with specialty fare.
Meanwhile, CBC, like other broadcasters, seem intent on using these announcements to make their case that only a government bailout can rescue made in Canada fare. How many days away is the CTV release suggesting the economy and lack of carriage fee funding has just torpedoed that most sacred of all exports, Degrassi: The Next Generation? Fact is Degrassi has fallen through the floor this season, down to an estimated 206,000 viewers for a new episode Sunday. The show that follows it on CTV, The Amazing Race, has ten times the audience. You do the math.
Did U.S. networks blame the economy when they canceled Life on Mars, Lipstick Jungle, My Own Worst Enemy or Journeyman? When Sophie gets the hook, please don't blame the economy, or infer that the feds killed her. Just let her go and put lovely Natalie Brown into something better.
OTHER MONDAY NUMBERS: Little Mosque on the Prairie 575,000, Sophie 234,000 (64,000 in the demo!), Just For Laughs 324,000. CTV’s Corner Gas was back up to 1,055,000, with Two and a Half Men pulling 1,388,000 and Big Bang Theory 816,000. CSI: Miami nabbed 1,551,000. Global’s power House beat all shows with 2,220,000, followed by another strong 24 outing at 1,298,000. Heroes was up a notch this week at 718,000 (all data BBM NMR overnight "commercial" estimates).
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