Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Let The Games Begin (to Make Money)

Sitting here watching the Penguins match up against Philly in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs and thinkin'--are CBC's troubles about to get way worse?
The annual Hockey Night in Canada Spring playoff run (featuring Brampton's Cassie Campbell, right) is usually money in the bank for CBC. But with three Canadian teams out of the playoffs, Ottawa, Edmonton and especially Toronto--ratings will be down and so will ad revenues.
Given the meltdown in the auto sector, CBC must already be reeling from a lack of playoff ad bucks. CBC needs Calgary, Vancouver and Montreal to go deep into the playoffs to balance the books after a tough winter.
All this unscientific musing comes after a wacky week in the Canadian ratings game. The one big, shining success was Monday's Corner Gas finale. CTV counted 2,914,000 "Total" viewers spread out over CTV and A channels across Canada Monday at 9:30. (All numbers BBM Canada overnight estimates; all viewers 2+.) Curiously, that number was not broken out in overnight reports in terms of how well the series finale did on either outlet--CTV or A. BBM Canada counted the total audience the same way they would a CTV/CBS simulcast--which makes me wonder how soon we'll see eTalk or other shows shared the same way.
Certainly way more people in Toronto watched Corner Gas on CTV (569,000 "commercial" viewers) than on Barrie's A (78,000). In Vancouver, the split was CTV 157,000, Victoria's A affiliate 80,000.
They loved Corner Gas on the Comedy Network, too. The finale scored 235,000 there Monday at 8:30, a huge number for specialty. Add Gas's Comedy score to their CTV and A total and 3,114,000 Canadians said goodbye to Brent Butt and the gang Monday night.
Lost in the Gas reports was the huge score for the imported comedy which preceded it on CTV--Two and a Half Men. The Charlie Sheen comedy drew 2,047,000 Monday on CTV. That's close to what CTV got last night for American Idol (2,203,000).
That's the good news. Some other recent numbers suggest viewers are turning off their sets a whole week before TVTurnoff Week. CBC had nothing Monday and it showed. A Sophie rerun (102,000) and the Halifax Comedy Fest (176,000) drew specialty-sized crowds. Sunday's Test the Nation (136,000) and Sunday Night Movie (265,000) were also ignored.
It's not just CBC feeling the fatigue. CTV again failed to find an audience Sunday for the buzzless Degrassi: The Next Generation (176,000), although The Amazing Race followed with a robust 1,557,000 commercial. A rebroadcast of the Southland premiere barely kept the Desperate Housewives slot warm with 570,000, but The Mentalist jumped back up to 1,161,000.
The hits seem to still be hits but the filler is failing. Global got their usual big crowd for Monday's House (2,271,000) and 24 (1,068,000) and picked up 1,308,000 Tuesday night with NCIS. The Project Runway finale drew a respectable 489,000. But Global's Saturday scores were as low as their recent stock values. Throwaways Masterminds (91,000), Triage (93,000) and back to back Doc (69,000 and 87,000) tested the theory that you could draw 100,000 Canadians with a test pattern. If you offer a rerun channel lineup, you get rerun channel numbers. When Global offered something new and exciting Saturday, like The Masters (645,000) and Saturday Night Live (399,000) they found a crowd outside the prime time hours.
That Corner Gas finale was part of the talk today on Hamilton's CHML Talk Radio with Scott Thompson. Scott also wanted to know about that Scottish singer who is burning up YouTube with her inspiring Britain's Got Talent turn, as well as why Elvis Costello is such a bust on CTV's Spectacle. You can listen in here.
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