You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Summer season turns on small-screen heat

Canuck, U.S. fare among offered p'gramming

This article was corrected on June 18, 2003.

MONTREAL — The big two terrestrial webs Global and private web CTV are ramping up the traditionally dead summer by bowing local drama for the first time and, taking a leaf out of Blighty’s book, home-grown reality shows.

“The season starts now,” says Susanne Boyce, CTV programming prexy, who jokes about the great Canadian tradition of spending summer at the cottage. “They’ve got a satellite dish there.”

She adds: “The summer is no longer a crazy period. There are people watching and that has advertisers interested.”

The change in viewing habits has spurred Global and CTV to offer new programming, rather than the usual diet of re-runs.

“Repeats don’t work as well as they used to,” says Boyce. “Some, like ‘Law & Order,’ work and others, like ‘The West Wing,’ are a disaster.”

CTV is pinning its hopes on increased Canuck drama — despite government budget cuts to key funder, the Canadian Television Fund, which backs many popular shows.

CTV has three new made-in-Canada series “Comedy Inc.”, “Corner Gas” and “Keys Cut Here.”

Global had to cancel one new drama, “Falcon Beach,” due to Fund cuts, and others will feel the pinch in coming seasons as the cash crunch bites.

In February, the government chopped C$25 million ($18 million) from its annual contribution to the fund. Earlier this month, it reinstated $9 million but that money is borrowed from next year’s allocation to the fund.

The webs are looking to cheaper, homegrown reality programming that doesn’t rely on government handouts.

“We have to find ways to do things without the fund, which is what we’re doing with ‘Train 48’,” says Loren Mawhinney, Global’s VP of production.

“Train 48,” which debuted June 2, is what execs call an instant drama. The improv show about train commuters is shot and aired on the same day, and includes references to the day’s news events.

It costs around $26,000 per episode, compared to between $580,000 and $730,000 for a one-hour drama. The credits for “Train 48” include a note saying the show was made without the assistance of the Canadian TV Fund.

Global has a number of U.S. reality series playing over the summer, notably “Restaurant,” “Paradise Hotel,” “Meet My Folks,” “Last Comic Standing” and the return in July of “Big Brother.”

CTV’s big-ticket homegrown reality offering is “Canadian Idol,” its spinoff from the U.S. phenom “American Idol.” CTV’s talent search series bowed June 9 to boffo ratings, with just over 2 million viewers.

This was particularly good given that it was the same night as the seventh game of the National Hockey League Stanley Cup Final, a huge deal in hockey-mad Canada.

The success of “Canadian Idol” underlines the fact that audiences are still watching the smallscreen as the weather heats up outside.

TV execs are counting on that continuing in July and August as Canucks quit the cities to kick back in the country.

More TV

  • NBCU Reality Streaming Service Hayu Launches

    NBCU’s Reality Streaming Service Hayu Launches in Three New Territories (EXCLUSIVE)

    It’s easier to keep up with the Kardashians in the Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg after NBCUniversal launched its reality-TV streaming service, hayu, in those countries Tuesday. The service went live with about 6,000 episodes of unscripted fare from NBCUniversal’s lineup, including “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” “Made in Chelsea” and “The Real Housewives” and [...]

  • Arrow -- "Elseworlds, Part 2" --

    'Elseworlds, Part 2' Recap: Batwoman's 'Arrowverse' Story Begins

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Elseworlds, Part 2” the second part of the 2018 “Arrowverse” crossover, which aired Dec. 10. “Arrow’s” leg of the “Elseworlds” crossover had a little more to think about than “The Flash’s,” mainly because it served as the first introduction to Ruby Rose’s Batwoman. For [...]

  • Michael Uslan's U2K Becomes Asia-Hollywood Formats

    Michael Uslan's U2K Becomes Asia-Hollywood Formats Pipeline (EXCLUSIVE)

    Michael and David Uslan, the father and son producing team with credits that include “The Dark Knight” and “Sabrina: Secrets of a Teenage Witch” have struck a cluster of deals that makes them a two-way conduit for TV formats between Hollywood and Asia. U2K, a company that includes the Uslans and Jon Karas (“Believe in [...]

  • Court TV Brand to Resurface as

    Court TV Brand to Resurface as New Channel From Scripps Co.

    Court TV is back in session. The cable TV channel that once carried gavel-to-gavel live coverage of high-profile trials will be revived by a new owner, nearly a dozen years after it was shuttered by Turner Broadcasting. Katz Networks, a division of E.W. Scripps Co., plans to revive Court TV as a new channel designed [...]

  • Gina Rodriguez Carmen Sandiego

    TV News Roundup: Netflix's Carmen Sandiego Series With Gina Rodriguez Sets Premiere Date

    In today’s TV news roundup, Netflix announced a premiere date for its upcoming Carmen Sandiego series and Stars released the premiere date for its original comedy series “Now Apocalypse.” DATES Lifetime will debut a new Gretchen Carlson documentary Jan. 14 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, Variety has learned exclusively. The two-hour special titled “Gretchen Carlson: Breaking [...]

  • Craig Hunegs WB

    Craig Hunegs to Exit Warner Bros. TV Group and Digital Networks (EXCLUSIVE)

    After nearly 25 years in the Warner Bros. family, Craig Hunegs is exiting his post as head of business for Warner Bros. TV Group and president of the studio’s digital networks wing. Hunegs said he has been discussing his exit with Warner Bros. chairman-CEO Kevin Tsujihara for the past several months. At a time of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content