Monday, March 2, 2009

Trump Fires Up Canadian Numbers Game

Funny business, this television. Almost daily, networks on both sides of the border are crying the blues about "business model being broken" and how the ad market has cratered. Days before CRTC license rulings, Global and CTV can't sell those weak sister stations they paid billions for a few years ago fast enough. To paraphrase Yvan Fecan's once proud upfront boast, A will go before E!, and then they'll sell off CTV, or something like that.
Yet people are still watching television. Take Sunday night, for example.
My old pal Donald Trump was back with another edition of Celebrity Apprentice.
Love him or hate him, there is no denying that Trump has added pizazz and personality to television. I once asked him at the end of a press scrum if he was sick of people goofing on his lid. He shot me that "You're fired!" look and said, "well, I guess it's not my greatest asset." The guy is good.
The two hour premiere of The Celebrity Apprentice averaged 8.81 million viewers Sunday night on NBC, scoring well among 18-49-year-olds. In Canada on Global's E!rything Must Go channels, The Donald won his timeslot, scoring 209,000 Toronto area viewers up against CTV's Criminal Minds (129,000) and an out of simulcast episode of The Mentalist (107,000). It was E!-vantage Apprentice in Vancouver and Calgary, too (according to BBM-NMR overnight estimates).
Suddenly bankrupt CBC, which had the stones to start lobbying for more public millions last week (or else it would put ads on its radio broadcasts--the horror!), drew a whopping 1,312,000 viewers last night for airing The Devil Wore Prada as its Sunday night movie. Interesting that CBC's highest rating last week--out performing both Mercer and Hockey Night in Canada--was for a U.S. import. What, we're still a nation? Zut alors!
Heartland had a hearty (and typical) 637,000 earlier on Sunday night. Compare that to CTV's Degrassi: The Next Generation, which managed just 157,000 viewers across Canada. Yeah, but it kills in the demo, right? Wrong. Down to 81,000. School's out, kids.
Especially compared to the show that shoots up behind Degrassi on CTV: The Amazing Race. Sunday's Race outing pulled a shade under 2 million viewers, No. 4 in Canada for the week, behind unstoppable CSI (a staggering 2,739,000 CTV Total viewers), another full House (2,463,000 Global Total) and a relocated (due to Barack Obama's speech Tuesday night) American Idol performance show (2,038,000 CTV Total). CTV's CSI: New York (1,916,000) rounded out the Feb. 23-March 1 Canadian Top-5.
CTV scored their usual 13 of the Top-20 last week across Canada in total households, with their CBS cop show co-production, Flashpoint, continuing to impress on Fridays. It scored 1,339,000 Total CTV viewers last week, ranking it as the 12th most watched show in Canada.
Drill down the numbers in Canada's major cities, especially in the demo, and Global had plenty to cheer about, too. Survivor--just renewed for two more editions--drew 1,890,000 last Thursday. It outperformed the American Idol results show moved against it Thursday night in both 2+ and in 18-49-year-olds, especially in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.
So despite all the doom and gloom (or maybe, because of it), the top shows are still top draws in Canada. People will even watch celebrities try to sell cupcakes, as they did last night on The Apprentice. If only real cupcake makers were advertising.
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