Tag Archives: TV-ratings

Posted in Montreal, TV

Montreal TV ratings: Global and City morning shows tied

Global Montreal morning show cast, from left: Richard Dagenais, Jessica Laventure, Camille Ross

Global Montreal’s Morning News, with Richard Dagenais, Jessica Laventure and Camille Ross, hasn’t fallen to new competitor Breakfast Television. At least not yet.

The first ratings report after the launch of City’s local programs is out, and so we can finally say which of the two local English morning shows has won the first ratings battle.

As it turns out, neither. They’re tied. Though both of them are far behind CTV’s Toronto-based Canada AM, which has three times more viewers in Montreal than the other two shows combined.

I have some analysis of ratings, and some quotes from the various parties, in this story, which appears in Friday’s Gazette.

But let’s get into some detail.

Continue reading

Posted in My articles, TV

Montreal TV ratings: Global morning show struggles out of the gate with 500 viewers

Global Montreal morning show cast, from left: Richard Dagenais, Jessica Laventure, Camille Ross

Global Montreal morning show cast, from left: Richard Dagenais, Jessica Laventure, Camille Ross

Global Montreal’s Morning News hasn’t had the smoothest start. As a guinea pig for a new way of producing live TV, with local control-room staff using servers across the country, it has been plagued with technical problems, some so serious they have forced the show off the air a couple of times. Marketing for it hasn’t been terribly overwhelming, and if it has been generating buzz it hasn’t been for the best reasons.

Now comes confirmation that the show hasn’t started resonating with viewers yet. BBM numbers for the first survey of Montreal TV viewers since the show went on the air estimate its audience at about 500 viewers, which is about as much as it had before the show went on the air, when it was showing things like repeats of the previous night’s newscasts.

I break down ratings numbers for this story in Tuesday’s Gazette.

It would be easy to have too much fun with this, to make jokes about the show’s lack of impact (I’ve heard a few already). But it’s not for lack of effort from those involved. Hosts Richard Dagenais and Camille Ross are trying hard to get comfortable in their new roles, deal with the technical issues and make the show work. Jessica Laventure has been trying to make her presence as entertaining and informative as possible. And the people behind the scenes are tearing their hair out juggling everything to put three hours a day of live television on the air. They all deserve better.

If anyone deserves blame for this, it’s Global management and Shaw Media, which have put the bare minimum (one could argue even less than that) into the show in terms of resources. It’s understaffed, underfunded, undermarketed, and so it should come as no surprise that it’s underviewed.

This show is here to fulfill a commitment that Shaw made to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission when it bought Global TV in 2010. It promised to fund local morning shows in six markets, including $5 million for Montreal until 2017. That means no matter how badly the show is received, it will continue to be on air at least until then. So in a sense Global doesn’t have to care about ratings, certainly not in the first few weeks.

But it should, for two reasons. First, Global News Senior VP Troy Reeb told me he wants the show to be self-sufficient. Not necessarily to be profitable with advertising, but to come close enough to breaking even that it’s worth continuing the investment and building a viewer relationship. That won’t happen if it continues to build a relationship as an unwatchable show with nothing to offer.

Second, we’re now only a few months away from the launch of a competing local morning show on City TV. That show will launch with three times the staff, and you have to expect that the difference in quality will be noticeable almost instantly. If Global’s morning show hasn’t developed a strong connection with viewers by then, any morning viewing looking for a local alternative to Canada AM will switch to City instead.

Global: No comment

I tried to get comment from the three broadcasters for my story, but only heard back from one by deadline (though CBC did provide me with some data). It’s funny how those with good ratings information are always the easiest to get in touch with.

When I finally got Global Montreal station manager Karen Macdonald on the phone on an unrelated matter, I asked her about the ratings, and whether she’s disappointed in the numbers from the morning show. She said she doesn’t believe the ratings, that she feels Montreal’s English market does not have a large enough sample size, and she doesn’t have anything more to say on the subject.

Global has had various theories for why ratings show them so far behind their competitors (though they acknowledge that they are behind). They feel they have a strong francophone audience, which is ignored by BBM. They feel that the diary system is biased toward CTV’s self-marketing power that causes some people write down that they’re watching CTV News when they’re actually watching Global. BBM rejects the latter argument, saying diaries ask for network, channel number and program name, and survey takers are called if there is any discrepancy.

I can understand Global’s frustration with the ratings. This isn’t an easy market to crack. CTV had been the only private game in town from when it launched in 1961 to when Global opened in 1997. CFCF’s audience is intensely loyal, which leads to high ratings which leads to larger budgets which leads to better quality which leads to higher ratings. Only an overwhelming infusion of money over a long period of time could seriously compete with that, and even Shaw isn’t ready to spend that kind of cash.

At least with mornings, Global didn’t have to compete with CTV here. It runs the national Canada AM show (though “national” might be exaggerating since western CTV markets have local morning shows). But viewers so far are still happy enough with that and haven’t been switching. Shaw and Global need to do a lot more if they’re serious about making this show a success and keeping it going past that five-year mark.

More numbers

The rest of the ratings details don’t show much difference from the last report. CTV Montreal’s newscasts still dominate in every time slot by a wide margin. The weekday 6pm newscast has a 52.8% market share, compared to 4.5% at CBC and 1.5% at Global. In terms of actual viewers, that works out to 133,000 for CTV, 11,400 for CBC at 6, and 3,800 for Global.

The top-rated show overall in the market is CTV’s 6pm newscast. The second-highest rated is the weekend 6pm newscast.

There has been some variation. CTV says its 6pm weeknight audience is up 11%, the 6pm weekend audience is up 7.4%, and its late-night audience is up 20.5%, while its noon newscast has dropped by 21%. GM Louis Douville told me that they would be looking at the noon show. Coincidentally the next day he told me that Paul Karwatsky is being moved off of it so he can co-anchor the 6pm newscast an anchor at 11:30pm while Catherine Sherriffs is on maternity leave.

At CBC, the 5pm evening newscast continues to make gains. The spring 2013 numbers show that in the English Montreal extended market, the show has 21,000 viewers at 5pm and the same at 5:30. Its share of the audience has more than doubled for both those periods since 2011. But the 6pm newscast, which has to compete with both CTV and Global, hasn’t seen that kind of growth. It has only 11,000 viewers in the latest report, and only a 5% share, compared to a 16% share at 5pm.

And yet, when you watch the newscast, it’s clear that they’re trying to push viewers to tune in at 6. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard “we’ll bring you more on this story at six o’clock.” But clearly viewers are switching channels at that time. You have to wonder why they don’t just come out with their news at 5 and either kill the last half-hour or turn it into something else.

Unfortunately decisions like these are made in Toronto, so we won’t be seeing any big changes unless they make sense on a national scale.

CBC’s late-night newscast has 5,000 viewers, or a 4% share, same as it had in the fall.

The BBM measurement covers three weeks in February and March. The next measurement of diary markets like Montreal will take place in October and November, for publication in January 2014.

 

Posted in TV

TV ratings: Market still belongs to CTV

Fall 2013 TV ratings

Market share for 6pm weeknight newscasts among Montreal’s three English-language television stations

Its competitors might be expanding their local programming, but CTV Montreal isn’t exactly quaking in its boots. Ratings released this week by BBM Canada show CFCF with huge leads in its local newscasts in all time slots.

For the flagship newscast at 6pm, CTV has a 58% market share among adults, which not only puts it far ahead of its competitors, but means that there are more Montreal anglos watching CTV News at 6 than there are watching everything else on television combined during that hour. It’s hard to beat ratings like that. As I mention in a story in The Gazette, the local newscast has more viewers than even the most popular CTV primetime program, The Big Bang Theory.

CBC, the closest competitor, can barely be described as such. With a 5.5% share, it has one tenth of the viewers of CTV at 6. Global is even further behind with a 2% share and only 4,100 adult viewers, which I would describe as less than its previous numbers but that might have more to do with statistical error than an actual drop in audience (I’d also be comparing 18+ and 2+ audience, and might be missing the thousands of teenage viewers to Global Montreal’s newscast).

CTV’s dominance is also unshakable at noon (52% share), weekends at 6 (46% share) and late night (37% share).

CBC added weekend newscasts in 2012, and then later expanded the late-night newscast from 10 to 30 minutes. The Saturday 6pm newscast has a 5.3% share, comparable with its weeknight newscast. The late-night newscast has a 3.5% share.

If either station wants to seriously challenge CFCF for viewers, there’s still a very long road ahead for them.

The BBM numbers above represent measurements taken via written diaries on Oct. 18-31 and Nov. 8-21, 2012, during which all three stations’ newscasts presented special reports. The next measurement of local English television will be taken in February and March, and released on May 7. At that point we should have an idea of how Global’s new morning show is doing early on, and whether it has started eating away at the 41% market share held by Canada AM.

Posted in Montreal, TV

Should CBC and Global move their local newscasts?

When I was working on my story about Global Montreal, my editor suggested I write a companion story about the ratings for local newscasts, since it had been a while since The Gazette looked into that. (The last time was a year ago, when CFCF celebrated its 50th anniversary.)

I asked for basic ratings information from the three broadcasters, wanting to know what their estimated total average audience was for each of their local programs. BBM Canada, which does ratings measurements, doesn’t like too much detail about demographics being released, so I limited myself to asking for the total 2+ audience.

In the case of Shaw Media, that limitation wasn’t enough, and they wouldn’t give me their exact ratings for CKMI’s Evening News, News Final and Focus Montreal, saying they couldn’t because of their deal with BBM. Fortunately, I was able to get some ballpark figures by looking at the detailed master planners that Shaw Media provides to advertisers, which breaks down by station, by time slot and by demographics. Shaw warned me that these are just “estimates”, but they’re the best I could get, and the numbers were similar to what was reported last year.

CFCF and CBMT had no trouble providing me with their audience numbers (though in the case of CBC Montreal there was apparently some confusion over whether it was numbers for the Montreal market or total, which led to a correction on the story.)

CFCF > everyone

The numbers for the weekday 6pm newscasts are unsurprising, and haven’t changed much. CFCF dominates with almost 200,000 viewers on average. CBMT is next with its newscast peaking at 34,000 during the 5:30pm block (which is ironically when it presents national and international news), and CKMI has numbers in the four digits, somewhere around 7,000 viewers.

It’s pretty well the same story as last year, and just about the same story as a decade ago, except that in 2000, when Global Montreal was still new and still making significant investments in local programming, the number of people watching its local news was about three times what it is now, and it was in second place ahead of the struggling CBC, which had only two years previously had an audience as high as 60,000, and was above 80,000 in the early 1990s.

We have decades of numbers showing that CBC isn’t going to beat CFCF at 6pm, and 15 years of numbers that show Global trying every trick in the book isn’t going to help it succeed at that goal either. CFCF’s newscasts have more resources, more staff, more experience, and much more loyal viewers.

Assuming that the other stations want to maximize viewership for their local newscasts (and there’s certainly an argument to be made that Global is doing the absolute bare minimum when it comes to CKMI – even their upcoming morning show is being done because of a CRTC commitment), what can they do?

Throwing money at the problem is one solution, though people who remember the best years of CBC’s NewsWatch would note that they still weren’t able to create serious competition for CFCF in the 1990s.

News at 5 … or 7

Another option is to move the newscasts out of the way and hand the 6pm hour over to CTV. In 2009, CBC made a big move expanding its local evening newscasts to 90 minutes and having them start at 5pm. CBMT is seeing strong ratings gains for that hour, and is seeing more viewers from 5-6pm than from 6-6:30pm.

On the French side, the reanimated corpse of TQS known as V based much of its programming schedule on counter-programming, putting entertainment programming in the 6pm and 10pm hours when Radio-Canada and TVA have newscasts. The idea has worked for one of V’s biggest successes, Un Souper presque parfait at 6:30pm.

Of course, this has been tried before. Global Montreal tried starting local news at 5:30 twice, the last time in 2000. That lasted two years until they went to the half-hour news at 6pm that they do now. CBMT also tried starting at 5:30pm in the 90s, but didn’t have much success.

But I think it’s time to try again. V’s successes and CBC’s stronger ratings in its 5pm hour show that counterprogramming is a strategy that can work for an underdog. And the number of people working 9-to-5 jobs that get home just before 6pm isn’t the same as it used to be. Many people are working earlier and later.

I’m not a big fan of CBMT’s repetitive 90-minute newscast, though I can understand the strategy of letting people tune in for one half-hour block of their choice. I think CBC should just get rid of the last half-hour, move to a one-hour newscast with less repetition and more original local news, and use that other half-hour daily to produce some other form of local programming. A current-affairs show or local culture show would be, I think, dearly welcome in this market, and something that would fit well with CBC’s mandate. Putting such a show at 7pm, when CTV and Global air vacuous celebrity gossip shows, would be brilliant counterprogramming and give people like me a reason to watch television at that hour.

Unfortunately for CBMT, decisions like this are made almost entirely at the national level. It was a national decision to have a 90-minute newscast that starts at 5pm, and a 10-minute late newscast after The National. For such a change to happen, it would either need to be made nationally (ignoring the variations in each market) or would require a decentralization of decision-making that we haven’t seen in a long while.

As for Global, when I met with station manager Karen Macdonald, I asked why they hadn’t considered moving the newscast out of CTV’s shadow. She pointed out that they have tried that in the past, but also said they didn’t try it for long. She said they might consider it again, but that if it would move it would probably go to 5:30.

I think 7pm is a better bet. The competition – CTV’s awful eTalk and the second half of Coronation Street on CBC – is weak, they wouldn’t be up against any other local news, and I think more and more Montrealers are working later shifts or having longer commutes and are more likely to miss the 6pm news at CFCF.

But Entertainment Tonight and ET Canada are big ratings draws for Global. And replacing ET Canada with local news at 7pm would be a sign of serious commitment to local programming that I don’t think Global is prepared to sacrifice ratings for.

The other newscasts

While a lot of attention is paid to 6pm weekdays, I was curious what the other newscasts during the week get in terms of audience. Those numbers are rarely reported.

CTV’s ratings show that the late-night newscast at 11:30pm gets 57,000 viewers on weekdays and 55,000 on weekends – so those tuning in to Tarah Schwartz on Saturday nights is about the same as those tuned in to Catherine Sherriffs on Monday nights.

It’s worth noting that these numbers are higher than CBMT’s at 5pm. So when Debra Arbec left her job as late-night anchor to jump to CBC, she saw her average viewership drop. But that’s compensated by being a bigger fish in the smaller pond, being one of the faces of her station, and having more airtime in a day (with SportsNight taking up much of CFCF’s late newscast, anchor screen time is very limited).

At noon, CFCF draws 50,000 viewers, which is pretty impressive for a time when most people are at work or doing important things.

And on the weekends, Tarah Schwartz gets 119,000 viewers on average at 6pm. (She’s supposed to be getting a co-anchor at some point, but one hasn’t been announced yet.)

The other late-night newscasts have pretty poor ratings. About 14,000 viewers for the 10-minute block of CBC sandwiched between The National and George Stroumboulopoulos. Global’s ratings at 11pm are in the low four-digits, around 2,000 viewers (though that’s a seven-day average, and also includes the 11:30 slot).

Compare that to more than 80,000 Montrealers tuning in to CTV National News, and there really isn’t much competition here either.

I always found CBC’s late local news a bit awkwardly-scheduled, more as a continuation of The National than a standalone program. That’s great if you want a lead-in from Peter Mansbridge, but CBMT isn’t going to attract viewers who tune in to American dramas at 10pm. By the time the credits start rolling on those shows, the CBC late newscast is almost half done.

What do you think?

I’m curious what my loyal readers think of newscast scheduling. Would moving weeknight local news be a good idea for CBC and Global? Would you be more likely to watch if they were on at some other time? What should the other guys do to set themselves apart from CFCF? And what other kinds of local programming would you like to see in English Montreal?

Posted in Montreal, Opinion, TV

Ratings: CFCF dominates, but CBMT’s happy

Fall 2010 ratings for Montreal anglophone evening newscasts

It’s the kind of statistic that can only be visualized in pie chart form: CFCF (CTV Montreal) continues to dominate the ratings of the three local evening newscasts, according to figures Bill Brownstein put out in Saturday’s story about the station’s anniversary (which, incidentally, is today – happy anniversary). It has more than six times as many viewers as its nearest competitor, and more than four out of every five people watching an anglophone newscast at 6pm is tuned to channel 12.

It’s nothing new. CFCF has been dominating the ratings like this for years, ever since massive budget cuts at the CBC caused people to tune away from NewsWatch.

But the public broadcaster is slowly fighting its way back up. Almost a year and a half since introducing a 90-minute evening newscast (that relied primarily on repeating the same stories), CBMT is seeing a ratings spike in the 5-6pm hour.

“Our audience has almost doubled at 5 and 5:30 since last fall,” news director Mary-Jo Barr explains in an email. “Our share at 5pm is 9% (up from 5% in fall 2009) and our 5:30 share is 10% (up from 6% in Fall 2009).  This is the largest audience the CBC has held in the 5-6 timeslot in recent memory.  We couldn’t be more pleased.”

This is a sign that Montrealers are realizing there’s a newscast at 5pm on CBC, and if for whatever reason that timeslot is more convenient for them, they can get their news from CBC instead of CTV. It’s nowhere near the kind of ratings CFCF gets for its 6pm newscast, but it should still serve as a lesson to CBMT, Global’s CKMI and other stations who trail badly in the ratings department: Unless you have a truckload of money to waste, don’t try to take beat the leader with a bad copy of what it does.

Barr also credits some content changes for the increased ratings. “We’ve been working hard to make the show as relevant as possible to English Montrealers,” she says. “We’ve more clearly defined each half hour.  We’ve increased our investigative reporting by dedicating our Shawn Apel to the beat and by embedding Nancy Wood in Radio-Canada’s investigative unit.  We’ve also added a weekly segment, Jennifer Hall’s “Montrealer of the Week”, which features the achievements of everyday Montrealers.  We also continue to place special emphasis on breaking news, live reporting, and local news and weather.  Seems like the winning formula is starting to pay off.”

(With respect to Apel, who is a solid reporter, an investigative team of one isn’t going to make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. But I appreciate the effort.)

So where do we go from here? I think CBC should just scrap the last half-hour of its newscast and run a straight hour from 5 to 6, where they have no competition (unfortunately, because too many big decisions are still made in Toronto, that’s not likely to happen here unless it happens everywhere else too). Find places or beats that CFCF either isn’t interested in covering or isn’t doing a good job with, and make those their own.

And what about Global?

Mike Le Couteur hosting what is apparently the Global Maritimes newscast

I hesitate to use the word “laughingstock”, mostly out of respect to the small crew of journalists who are trying their best there. But I tuned in to last night’s News Final (it’s the only local anglo newscast between 11:05 and 11:30) to see that it had a “Global Maritimes” bug in the corner. That lasted about 10 minutes until I mentioned it on Twitter and someone fixed it.

Yes, “it’s just a bug“, but it’s a symptom of the larger problem of what happens when you try to run a newscast on the cheap by producing and directing it in another city. I’ve watched the show many times waiting for the weatherman to accidentally give the Toronto forecast (CKMI’s weather is done by the weather presenter at Global’s Toronto station), and to his credit I haven’t seen Anthony Farnell slip up yet.

There’s some hope on the horizon. With Shaw’s acquisition of Global from Canwest, they’ve promised (as part of a government-mandated compensation package) to invest significantly in the stations, among them a new local morning show set to debut in 2012 (four years after This Morning Live went off the air). It’s unclear at this point how much of that would actually be produced and directed in Montreal, but it fills a gaping hole in local news, where the only thing between midnight and noon is a local news ticker at the bottom of the screen during CTV’s Canada AM.

I think CKMI should consider moving its evening newscast, perhaps to 7pm, and either move those stupid celebrity gossip shows elsewhere or kill them entirely. But they won’t, of course. Global, unfortunately, gave up on local news in this market long ago.

Posted in Opinion, TV

Canwest study shows people like Canwest networks

Canwest has released the results of a study that seeks to measure specialty television channels by quality rather than quantity of ratings. Instead of just pure viewer numbers, it seeks to rank networks by how attentive their viewers are, and how likely they are to pay attention to ads.

A cynic might notice that Canwest-owned networks, including Food Network, HGTV, History Television, Showcase (and its sister networks), National Geographic, Mystery TV and TVtropolis, improve their scores under this measurement. Under pure ratings, only one Canwest network (HGTV) comes in the top five, and only three (with History and Showcase) in the top 10. In the other metrics shown, Canwest networks have 2-3 of the top five and 4-6 of the top 10.

That cynic might wonder if Canwest would have released this study if Canwest-owned networks hadn’t fared so well.

Posted in TV

Find the hole in CTV’s logic

From CTV’s press release:

When major events happen at home or abroad, Canadians turn to CTV. This was proven once again yesterday when 78% more viewers tuned into the CTV NEWS SPECIAL REPORT: THE INAUGURATION OF BARACK OBAMA, than coverage on CBC or Global combined. A total of 841,000 viewers watched the coverage on CTV from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., while 236,000 viewed on CBC and 236,000 also viewed on Global.

I have a feeling more Canadians turned to CNN than CTV, but that doesn’t help their incessant penis-measuring contest.

UPDATE: Therrien has the numbers for TVA/RDI, for those who are curious. More people watched it on TVA than CBC or Global.

Posted in Humour, Montreal, TV

Just for (American) Laughs (UPDATED)

ABC premiered the American version of Just for Laughs Gags tonight (there it’s just called Just for Laughs).

I’d heard all sort of rumours about this show. It was going to be re-shot with Americans. It was going to have Bob Saget-like voice-over stupidity.

Fortunately, none of these things happened. In fact, other than the ABC logo in the corner of the screen, it’s indistinguishable from the CBC version. The same cheesy music, same familiar locations (Dorchester Square, St. Louis Square, among others), same fake cops. The TV version doesn’t make it explicit that this is filmed in Montreal, which is kinda sad because there’ll probably be quite a lot of people confused at the French signs, red mailboxes and other things that make us not look like them. The website mentions that it’s a Canadian-made series, though the name of our fair city can’t be found (why is a goldmine of free publicity for our city not being pounced upon?).

If anything, it’s how little effort they put into changing the show that concerns me. They did a short graphic (with the familiar JFL logo) for before and after commercials, and they have this guy Rick Miller (yeah, I’d never heard of him either, but apparently he’s a Montrealer) introduce the show and say goodbye at the end. That’s it. I mean, the CBC show was bare-bones as it is. I’m not sure ABC can get away with just repackaging such a show, even over the summer.

From that and their website, which is about as bare-bones as you can get, I get the feeling ABC doesn’t expect this show to last through fall.

We’ll see. Maybe this can pick up an audience that thinks Punk’d and all its ilk are too aggressive or have too much dialogue or something.

UPDATE: Response from the blogosphere so far is not encouraging. The few media who mentioned it in advance gave it “something called” treatment. Blogger response fit that pretty well. “Disappointed.” “Not impressed.” “Beyond absurd” (from someone convinced it was shot in Mexico or Sao Paulo). “Desperately unfunny.” “Bland.” “The lamest.” And my favourite: “Absolute bullshit crap.” On the other side, as far as I can see, just one offhand “great” and one (albeit enthusiastic) “funny.”

LOST 2 this is not. And it’s hard to disagree. I would have rather seen gala stand-ups on U.S. television than a low-budget hidden camera gag show that, as far as they’re concerned, is a bad copy of all the other ones they’ve seen over the past half-decade.

What’s sad is this might give networks pause about importing other (good) Canadian television programming in the future.

UPDATED AGAIN: Overnight ratings for the show weren’t as bad as I thought they might be. They actually went up between shows, which shows it wasn’t advertised properly and viewers came in and stayed more than they left. Overall, it lost to America’s Got Talent, came in about tied with CBS’s NCIS repeat, and beat FOX’s On The Lot.

Could be I’ve written its obituary too soon.