We’re getting into upfront season in Canadian television — the time of year when the networks set their fall schedules and present teasers to advertisers to try to drum up excitement for the coming season.
It’s also the time when we find out what’s not coming back. This week, Bell Media told staff that it’s pulling the plug on on daily news magazine shows on two of its most popular specialty channels: Daily Planet on Discovery Channel and InnerSpace on Space.
Daily Planet was born @discovery.ca in 1995, and has been with Discovery since its launch. It was hosted for the longest time by Jay Ingram, and now by Dan Riskin and Ziya Tong. The hour-long daily series includes several documentary segments visiting factories, builders and scientists doing cool stuff. Its final show is June 5.
InnerSpace, hosted by Ajay Fry, Teddy Wilson and Morgan Hoffman, originally started as HypaSpace in 2002, though that was itself the natural progression of short-form videos about sci-fi news that had been on the channel in various forms through the years. Even as InnerSpace, the show was a bit of a hype machine for sci-fi shows that aired on Space or other Bell Media channels. (They were also responsible for the Orphan Black after shows.) But there were segments on comic books, interviews with authors and a lot of other segments that showed a staff that cared about what they were doing. Its final show was May 23.
Why cancel them? Bell Media’s official word is that increasing costs and declining revenue mean they’re no longer profitable. And they didn’t elaborate on that when asked by The Canadian Press.
To our viewers, we will always love and appreciate the support you gave us every night at 7e/4p. From @ziyatong, @riskindan and the @dailyplanetshow family, thank you for watching. ?? https://t.co/BWEauP8nMd
— Daily Planet (@dailyplanetshow) May 23, 2018
After 9 phenomenal seasons, last night was InnerSpace’s final episode. Due to increasing production costs and declining revenue, we can no longer continue production. Thank you to our hosts, crew, and incredible fans for all of the unforgettable adventures. LLAP ? pic.twitter.com/ucbtcLusYE
— Space (@SpaceChannel) May 24, 2018
According to financial information filed with the CRTC, in the broadcast year 2015-16 (the last year with public data), Discovery channel made $34 million in profit, and Space made $23 million. Both had healthy profit margins.
But that doesn’t mean these daily news magazines were profitable. They probably weren’t. And they’re not vital to building an audience for their channels.
Both Discovery and Space are part of a larger Bell Media group that is allowed to share Canadian content expenditures. So the money that isn’t being used to produce these shows will have to be used elsewhere. Bell might decide to repurpose them for scripted programming that might attract a larger audience and have more replay value. Both channels are also required to ensure at least 35% of their schedule is Canadian content, so it will have to rearrange the schedule as well. We may get some idea what their plans are when Bell Media does its upfront presentation in a couple of weeks.
In the meantime, 17 people have lost their jobs, and a bunch of nerds are going to look for something different to watch at 7pm weekdays.