Network Upfronts Extravaganza 2007: Canadian Edition

So, I spent last week covering the American Network Upfronts, but in reality that was all a warmup for the epic event that is: the Canadian Upfronts. Man, what a week this is going to…oh, you mean they already selected all their shows? And they just announced them in a press conference? Really? That’s, uh…wow, I wasn’t really prepared, I expected to have all sorts of time to write previews and…wow. Okay, so I guess I should run down some of the new that came over the past few days? I’m all out of sorts here.

Who are the Players?

Global (CanWest) and CTV are really the only major players involved now that CTV bought out CityTV and the rest of CHUM. There’s Sun TV out of central Canada, but they’re not a huge player. It’s really down to the big two for the big shows.

What should we know about Canada’s simulcasting system?

Well, first off, do the math: the shows airing on five different American networks don’t easily fit onto two Canadian networks, not all of them anyways. This has left some fairly substantial hits south of the border (America’s Next Top Model, Ugly Betty) off of these main networks and onto networks like CityTV or Sun TV.

Canadian networks struggle most with the fact that many of their shows overlap. For instance, they own the rights to both CSI and Grey’s Anatomy: as a result, the network is forced to air Grey’s an hour earlier than it is in the U.S. It’s all a give and take like this, which makes for some interesting Canadian scheduling. Another example was just last night, when CTV had the rights to both the Lost and American Idol finales, and actually split Lost into two parts in Central Canada to make it work.

Which network is better at simulcasting?

Definitely CTV. Global is a complete and total mess: its HD is extremely limited, its commercials are far worse, and all in all the production values just aren’t the same. I really wish they’d revamp everything to be less ugly, too. They really need to work on that. CityTV and the others aren’t terrible, but they don’t have the same level of nationwide coverage, which is a problem for families without digital cable or the joys of timeshifting that some of us enjoy.

So what’s happened so far?

Well, CTV has not officially announced any of its pickups thus far, but there have been some leaks ahead of their early June Upfront Presentation in Toronto. Meanwhile, Global has spilled the beans on which shows they’ve picked up. For all the information, you can follow to The Hollywood Reporter. For a complete summary and analysis, keep reading.

Global’s Pickups

Cane (CBS)

Viva Laughlin (CBS)

Swingtown (CBS)

Journeyman (NBC)

The Bionic Woman (NBC)

Life (NBC)

Women’s Murder Club (ABC)

Cashmere Mafia (ABC)

New Amsterdam (FOX)

K-Ville (FOX)

Back to You (FOX)

Now, these will be spread between Global and the new E! (Which is the CH networks rebranded). There’s a lot of dramas here, and Global itself already has a lot of high profile shows on these nights, so it’s going to require some juggling around. We’ll see in June where each show ends up, although current word has half going to Global and the other half to E!.

On the whole Global picked up a whole lot of serialized dramas, a few procedurals, and a single comedy. Outside of The Office/My Name is Earl, Global has dropped comedies from its schedule. It should be interesting to see if they return with Back To You.

CTV’s Pickups

Lipstick Jungle (NBC)

Chuck (NBC)

Sam I Am (ABC)

Dirty Sexy Money (ABC)

Private Practice (ABC)

Reaper (The CW)

Dirt (FX)

Moonlight (CBS)

Without a Trace (CBS)

Two and a Half Men (CBS)

Now, some of these are likely to end up on CityTV, considering it’s being taken over by CTV (I’m looking at midseason’s Lipstick Jungle as a candidate for this. The big story here is that the network picked up two shows formerly at CanWest: Without a Trace joins its CBS crime procedural buddies at CTV, while Two and a Half Men (Relegated to the basement after the end of Everybody Loves Raymond) might get the attention it deserves over at CTV (Although I don’t know where they’ll put it).

That’s the thing about CTV’s schedule: it’s already too full. They have to simulcast Dancing with the Stars in the Fall, and American Idol in the Spring…and maybe even both early next year. That’s a huge weight on their schedule, and it will result in some tricky scheduling shifts. Other stuff shifts more naturally: there’s room on Wednesdays for Private Practice/Dirty Sexy Money with Lost and Idol on hiatus in the fall, for example.

Who got the better deal?

Well, I’d say that Global actually has a lot more of the buzzworthy shows, with a majority of the procedurals heading their way. However, CTV also has a lot of high profile shows: as proof of this, my Five Most Interesting Pilots post shows the number knotted at 2 for Global (Bionic Woman/Back to You), 2 for CTV (Chuck/Reaper), and my #1 (Pushing Daisies) Choice likely headed to CityTV.

I think that CTV has the most existing successful shows, and they’ve got some natural replacement shows to slot in (Private Practice, Moonlight after Ghost Whisperer, etc.) I also think that they will do a better job of marketing new shows, something that Global just isn’t that good at doing.

Also, I think Global is running a huge risk: while CTV has stuck with what works in their lineup, Global has gone with a lot of serialized dramas…and if they fail, Global’s out of luck. This included The Bionic Woman, Journeyman, etc. They’ve got decent lead-ins for these shows in Heroes and House, and Deal or No Deal, but the fact remains that the network will have its fingers crossed that they succeed.

However, it’s still up in the air: other high-profile shows, like The CW’s Gossip Girl or FOX’s Sarah Connor Chronicles, remain unconfirmed as to who picked them up (Although my money’s on CTV for the prior, and maybe also for the latter).

Does this even matter if I’m not Canadian?

Well, look at it this way: if a show airs earlier in Canada, it becomes “available” faster in the States. So, I guess that’s how it might relate, and how you might be interested in seeing what Canadian networks put together over the coming days.

In just a couple of weeks, Global and CTV will parade out celebrities to promote their fall lineups, and I might have to put up with another Howie Mandel appearance. It’s all for the greater good, though: an epic event like the Canadian Upfronts can’t go uncovered.


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Filed under Back to You, Chuck, CTV, Global, Gossip Girl, Private Practice, Pushing Daisies, Reaper, Television, Upfronts, Without a Trace

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