Thursday, September 15, 2011

Producer fires back on Dance Canada departure

Numbers may not lie but they never tell the whole story. That was the message this morning from Sandra Faire, executive producer of So You Think You Can Dance Canada. Her four-year-old series was abruptly cancelled earlier this week by CTV.
I blogged in the previous post that I wasn't as shocked as some at SYTYCDC's sudden demise. Numbers had slipped in Season Four. News of the cancellation seemed unusually hasty on the heels of the finale but my read of the numbers was that the show was past its peak.
Faire, however--who called out of the blue this morning (I keep forgetting people actually READ this thing)--raised some valid points. So, in an effort to be fair to Faire (something I haven't always been accused of in the past), here's her side of the story:
No. 1, comparing a summer run to an in-season run is apples to oranges. Fewer people watch television when it is nice out. Why watch dancing on TV when you can dance on a beach? True, but you can go either way with that one. Viewing levels are lower, but so are the levels on other channels. Shouldn't it be less killer competitive?
Not this summer, Faire suggests. Big Brother has its biggest season ever and was murdering everything in sight. Those three Canadian dramas were puling 1.5 million all summer. America's Got Talent  was dominant over on City. Yet SYTYCDC still won its timeslot every week Mondays at 8.
She also points out that, once the total numbers are in, that 903,000 finale number will likely jump over a million. PVRs and other factors take a few extra days to count. The year-to-year comparison will be down, but won't be the 27% drop it seems now when comparing an overnight estimate to a 2010 Total.
Also, remember, says Faire, the last Dance slammed right into all those 9/11 tributes, a factor which tilted the night.
The finale of the American version of the show was also down this summer, pulling 1.2 mil for the finale. The Canadian finale will end up close to that mark.
It also probably didn't help that the show aired outside of the school year. It was probably considered required viewing at schools with arts programs. A natural support base across Canada was sidelined.
CTV tossed SYTYCDC into a summer slot to make room this fall for their big talent search import, The X Factor. Faire, who is married to former CTV CEO Ivan Fecan, gets that. She's produced a few blockbusters in her day, including those record-setting Anne Murray CBC specials in the late '80s/early '90s.
It did seem, however, with the departure of Fecan and former programming boss Susanne Boyce, that SYTYCDC was left off the CTV promotional dance card this summer. I can not recall seeing a single promotion for last Sunday's finale, a sharp contrast to other years. Plus, when you go to the Bell Media press site, and click on photography for the show, all you get are 2010 links. Huh.
As for the numbers, Faire points out that SYTYCDC was still a big draw in the demos, especially among young female viewers--second only to The Big Bang Theory among girls 18-34 on CTV most weeks. That translates into a lot of shampoo and cell phone ad revenue.
Still, don't look for another network to swoop in and rescue this series. CTV owns the format, just as they did with Canadian Idol. It can't be shopped to Rogers, Global or CBC, who, in any event, all have money tied up in their own new talent show launches this fall.
Faire, however, is free to create another dance series, and she's working on doing just that. She's a passionate advocate for the dance scene in Canada and proud of the influence her series had in reaching new fans beyond the core dance community. Plus she has to keep that spark plug Jean Marc Genereux busy.  Hopefully she'll call back when that next deal gets done.
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