Canadian shows make inroads in U.S.

Content captures share of American primetime

Network TV’s development process has already been transformed by everything from the current economic climate to shifts in broadcast schedules. Now yet another trend may come into the mix: the influx of Canadian shows like CTV/CBS Paramount Network’s “Flashpoint.”

Even though the Toronto-set, SWAT-team-themed skein, which ran two seasons on CBS, may not be renewed, it garnered decent ratings for the Eye and came at a reasonable cost.

“I think the door was already opening to the idea of our shows coming into the American market but the writers strike last year accelerated that process,” says “Flashpoint” exec producer Mark Ellis.

Canadian film and television producers and writers were ready for that opportunity, says Hans Fraikin, Quebec Film and Television commissioner. “There’s great support for our work from the government, and we’ve been able to produce television and film that’s as good as anywhere in the world, so it’s not surprising some of our shows would be hits elsewhere,” Fraikin says.

Ellis is quick to point out that “Flashpoint” has universal appeal that makes it work on both sides of the border. Though the show is one of the country’s most successful programs in nearly a decade, it’s still unclear whether other Canadian imports will translate as well.

An American version of “Little Mosque on the Prairie” — a popular, critically acclaimed series about a small Muslim community living in a fictional Saskatchewan town — is in development at 20th Century Fox Television. But NBC pulled the CTV drama “The Listener” — which focuses on a telepathic paramedic — from its lineup on July 30 after it posted an unimpressive 0.7 rating and 2 share among adults 18-49. ABC Family also yanked Canuck comedy import “Sophie” from its slate earlier than expected.

Those odds don’t bother Ellis.

“Not every show is going to work for every audience,” he says. “But I think shows with strong relatable themes have a good chance anywhere.”

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