Friday, April 22, 2005

What Broadcasters Want

I had the great luck to spend some time with the heads of the biggest Canadian broadcasters a couple of weeks ago. If you plan to pitch a show to one of them, it’s good to know what they’re looking for.

CTV has been drawing some big numbers with some of their shows. Canadian Idol approached 3 million, I think last year. Corner Gas is closing in on 2 million, which rivals Desperate Housewives. Bill Mustos, Senior Vice-President, Dramatic Programming, seems to value the big numbers. He’s looking for more of the same. He says CTV is looking for shows that appeal to the whole family; mom and dad, the kids, grandma and grandpa. He calls them big tent shows, programming that speaks to many generations.

CBC was less precise about what kind of shows they wanted. Instead, Richard Stursberg, CBC's new executive vice-president for English television and Debbie Bernstein, Executive Eirector, arts and entertainment programming, spoke about their plan to fill all of prime time (which they defined as 8 to 11 Sunday to Thursday) with drama. Like CTV they value shows that can draw large numbers of viewers, but they were not specific about what kinds of shows they were looking for. They want more mini-series, more series and more comedy. They said to bring them everything and anything.

Global was less enamored by the big numbers than the other two big broadcasters. Yes, they are definitely interested in programming that will make money, but Barb Williams pointed out that there isn’t always a direct relationship between big numbers and revenue. She’s interested in shows that will deliver an audience that’s 18-49. That’s the Global audience, that’s who they want. They may even have 9 and 10 pm slots for Canadian series that they believe will hit their demographic. They want commercial based properties, that are sustainable and promotable. Co-pros with other countries and other broadcasters are good possibilities with Global. They’d also consider 6 hour series and movie.

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