CTV Two: The second-rate brand

BBC Two. ESPN2. CBC Radio 2. TSN2. And now Bell Media has added another broadcaster to the list of brands whose names literally scream out “second-rate stuff goes here”: A Channel/ATV will become CTV Two, they announced on Monday.

Of course, A Channel is a second-rate channel, carrying mostly American programming that CTV has the rights to but can’t fit into the main network’s schedule. And I wasn’t exactly crazy about the /A\ branding either, particularly because of how ungoogleable it was.

A poll apparently told Bell that CTV’s brand is the most trusted media brand in Canada, and so it has decided to use that brand to maximum effect. It can’t turn A Channel stations into CTV stations directly (most are too close to existing CTV stations), so it’ll impose its brand and add a number to it because they can’t think of anything better to name it.

Another change will be rebranding the newscasts as “CTV News” – so they’ll be indistinguishable from CTV newscasts in all the other markets. Whether viewers of the local stations want this is, of course, irrelevant. The decision comes from the top, using the same logic that killed the Pulse News brand in Montreal.

CTV seems to be implying that it will put more effort into the network than it has in the past, giving it higher-profile shows instead of third-rate crap. It promises “one monster acquisition to anchor the schedule” – which I guess means that they’re going to give the network a single hit show and otherwise keep the relationship between the two networks unchanged.

Using A as the sloppy-seconds network is the main reason it has never been profitable. And it will probably remain that way. But part of Bell’s deal with the CRTC when it purchased CTV’s assets was a commitment to keep the unprofitable A Channel stations running for another three years. So we’ll see this experiment continue whether or not it’s successful.

There may not be a lot of money for newscasts or original programming for the A stations, but apparently there’s plenty of money to keep rebranding this network every few years. Hopefully whoever came up with the stupid name and cheap logo didn’t get paid too much.

UPDATE (June 2): The announcement of CTV Two programming for this fall contains little of interest. Certainly no “monster acquisition” I can see.

17 thoughts on “CTV Two: The second-rate brand

  1. AlexH

    I cannot say I am surprised to see CTV move to do this. If the local stations in the CTV network were actually more independant (read: owned by others) there would likely be more problems, especially with the news rebranding. It seems likely to cause some serious brand confusion in those market places.

    Nothing surprising here, just another disappointing step down the road of what appears to be more and more of the results of media concentration. Congrats to the CRTC board members, you have earned your pay.

  2. Vahan

    Wait a minute? I thought Global was CTV Montreal’s (CFCF) sloppy seconds station! It has close to zero local programming, a whole bunch of FOX shows and looks a lot like TVTropolis, the third rate channel of the bunch. Are you telling me this is not the case?

  3. snowy2004

    I like the logo and think the rebranding makes sense, since A has been CTV 1 1/2 for a while anyway. If they actually commit to the network with a good, full shedule (to be seen at the upcoming upfronts) and some good promotion and cross-promotion (like showing what’s playing on both channels when showing what’s next, like the OMNI channels in Toronto), it could work. I figure if Bell really wanted to kill off the A network they would have left it as is and let it rot until they were able to dump them.

  4. Fassero

    I’m just counting the years when Bell announces that some kind of “brand expert” figures it’s better to re-brand CTV as a whole as something like “BellTV” (yes, and the satellite arm would change names).

    CTV Two has become a wasteland in any form. A shame. I remember the Barrie, Ontario station when it was THE ONLY channel of programming for cottagers in Northern Ontario. It had hockey, excellent newscasts of local cottage interests, and some pretty good local shows. Then again, it started to go downhill when CITY picked it up and the newscasts became a kind of “minor league system” for anchors and reporters deemed expendable at the Toronto station.

    Big show pick-up? Big suspense [sarcasm intended]. Rogers and Shaw already made their announcements. You can easily figure out that CTV has picked up “The Bachelor” and “30 Rock” (the latter which I’m sure will slot after their oft-proclaimed “#1 show in Canada” – “Big Bang Theory”). I’m more than sure the announcement will be that CSI:Las Vegas or Grey’s Anatomy (the latter which is heavily rumored to be airing it’s final season) is switching to, yech, “Two”. Big. F’in. Deal. Stick an English version of “Tout le Monde en Parle” on Thursdays at 9 and they might get a second of my interest.

    “Local TV Matters”? Yeah, sure….

  5. ATSC

    What does it matter. As if we have access to CTV TWO in Montreal over the air. Perhaps they can put it on CFCF-DT 12.2?

  6. Troy

    You can call /A a second-rate channel, and it indeed is. However, it carries shows from CW that CTV does not carry. Nikita, Vampire Diaries to name a few. Now the bad news is, Videotron does not carry U.S. local CW station anymore. Thus, us in Videotron are denied that show. The other alternative is to subscribe to the Super Stations.

    However, CTV Two will also have HD feed. And it is almost certain that Videotron will not carry CTV Two. Now we are screwed. So there is no way, no way at all that those in Videotron will be able to watch CW shows (that are originally network, not cable, programming).

    If only I can get anything other than Videotron in my apartment, I would jump in a heartbeat!

  7. Manu

    I like the idea of a sub digital CTV two station in Montreal on CFCF’s frequency. That would force Videotron to carry it. However I’m sure they would need a licence from the CRTC to do that. And it would probably be a licence to rebroadcast either the Ottawa or Barrie station. Yuck! Stations from Ontario broadcasting freely in Montreal.

    I really don’t understand why Videotron doesn’t carry /A Ottawa outside of the Gatineau region. I understand that in the past /A had the 50 or 80 KM broadcast rights for some Senators game. So would have required blackout in Montreal and beyond. But with the end of sports in most local broadcast stations (regional Senators games are now all on Sportsnet from Northern Ontario to St-John’s), problem solved.

    VDN Cable carries /A Ottawa but is only available on some apartment buildings in Montreal. Bell Fibe TV is the way to go if you can’t put a dish on your roof. It’s coming all over the city. I have it and very satisfied so far. They have /A Atlantic, Barrie and Victoria. The problem with Bell is they don’t carry all Quebecor channels. I don’t mind for now, but when TVA Sports is on the air, it might frustrate some subscribers.

  8. Soupdragon

    Have to disagree with you about BBC Two being a second-rate channel. It has broadcast much original, high-quality programming over the past 47 years.

  9. UK Expat

    BBC Two. ESPN2. CBC Radio 2. TSN2. And now Bell Media has added another broadcaster to the list of brands whose names literally scream out “second-rate stuff goes here”


    Well, yes, if you know nothing about those channels. I don’t know about CBC Radio 2 but the others are complementary to the originals and just as vital to have.

  10. Malaki

    ok, someone PLEASE help me out. i have the old crappy three channels that come in on my rabbit ears, CBC, Global, and CTV. my tv is set up to get the digital tv instead now. i dont watch a whole lot of tv, but im looking at the tv sched’s and as far as i can see, CTVtwo has all the shows that i used to watch on CTV (criminal minds being the only show i actually follow) and normal CTV dosent seem to have it at all. when my tv switches to digital, am i getting ctv, or ctvtwo? because if i get the left over crap that they didnt cram onto a new channel im gonna be uber let down.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      CTVtwo has all the shows that i used to watch on CTV (criminal minds being the only show i actually follow) and normal CTV dosent seem to have it at all. when my tv switches to digital, am i getting ctv, or ctvtwo?

      CTV Two is what they’re renaming the A Channel network. If you get an A Channel station (Montreal doesn’t have one), then it will be rebranded CTV Two and you can watch your shows. If not, and your antenna isn’t strong enough to get American border stations (Criminal Minds is a CBS show), you can still watch it online via CTV’s website. They post episodes usually a day or two after they air.

        1. Anonymous

          Im in the same boat as you Malaki and I live close to Toronto… it’s still a no go.. .guess ctv has lost a couple viewers


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