Tuesday, June 06, 2006

CTV UNVEILS NEW FALL LINEUP

Enough of the American upfronts. On to the Canadian ones, now. And by Canadian standards, CTV's upfront yesterday was pretty much what the competition feared; a nuclear-bomb-style blowout. If there was any doubt who was number one in TV in this country, it was erased yesterday by CTV. Look at all the damage they inflicted on the competition in one day, just at their own upfront.

Just for starters, CTV unveiled its new fall lineup at the Hummingbird Centre. It's no accident they chose that venue. CTV had just shown the Canada's Walk of Fame induction show, which was held at the same venue over the weekend, so they wanted to blow their own horn about that. Moreover, it was yet another dig at Global TV, because the Canada's Walk of Fame induction show used to be on Global, until CTV swiped it last year. In fact CTV spent all of last season swiping Global's ratings and stealing Global's thunder. They were bragging about having 17 of the top 20 shows in prime time, including Idol, Desperate Housewives, LOST, the CSIs, you name it.

They also announced this fall's new shows, including pickups 30 Rock starring Tina Fey, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. By all rights, these parodies of Saturday Night Live ought to have gone to Global; after all, Global is the Saturday Night Live network in this country. But NBC's move of Studio 60 to Monday nights made it ripe for the taking by CTV. Also going to CTV is Justice starring Canadian Victor Garber, Smith, Let's Rob, Class, The Nine, and a few other shows. I don't see too many breakout hits here, but some of these shows have a chance to make it. Picking up 30 Rock and Studio 60 really damages Global more than any other move.

Having dispatched Global, the CTV folks turned their sights on CBC. They announced that their longtime CBC Olympic host Brian Williams had bolted to CTV to cover the Olympics in 2010. The timing for this announcement couldn't have been better. That night, CBC had Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals. On a day when the CBC should have been crowing about their sports coverage and the big ratings they were bound to get from Hockey Night in Canada, they had to answer questions about Brian Williams and how bad this defection makes them look. That took care of them.

Having disposed of both Global TV and the CBC in swift fashion, the only thing left for CTV to do was to conquer the Internet. Which they did. CTV announced that they had chosen this day to launch their broadband initative. They are going to have four channels of content on their broadband site. They are now streaming episodes of Corner Gas, Instant Star, Degrassi, the whole season 4 of Canadian Idol, with a few extra clips from its top Canadian shows including eTalk Daily, on their website www.ctv.ca. Check it out, it's pretty good stuff.

I'd say that if CTV was out to make a splash at its upfront, they totally succeeded. They made all the other Canadian networks look like chumps. Maybe they took a lesson from the splashy Global upfront of last year, when they brought in Donald Trump to help launch their fall schedule, which included the new Apprentice season and the launch of Entertainment Tonight Canada. The question now is, what does Global do to counter this? They can't bring Trump back. Not only is his show sinking fast (after Sean won in Super-Bowl blowout fashion last night), but it's not even on the fall schedule--- it won't be back until January of 2007. Who is Global going to bring in this time? Steve Carell? Jason Lee? Jeff Probst from Survivor?

That's Global's problem right now: too few hits.

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