Highlights from the Canadian TV 2019-20 upfronts

Last week, Bell Media was the last of the major English-language broadcasters to present their fall schedules to the public and advertisers. The big sells are the new (mostly American) series they’re adding to their primetime schedules. I haven’t seen any of them, so let’s instead focus on everything else that was announced and that I find interesting:

CBC

  • The big buzz is a Canadian version of Family Feud, airing four nights a week at 7:30pm starting in “late fall”, going up against Wheel of Fortune and Big Bang Theory reruns. It’s either a pointless Canadian adaptation of a brain-dead American game show, or an unfair use of taxpayer money to compete with private networks, or both, depending on your perspective.
  • Also, Battle of the Blades is back.
  • Other than that, a new Tuesday night sketch comedy and a drama, there isn’t much new here. Much of the new programming is planned for winter, including three new dramas, a documentary series, and four “factual entertainment” series. One of them is an original format (kinda) in which chefs have to make a meal using only what’s in a family’s kitchen, and another is You Can’t Ask That, a Canadian adaptation of an Australian series in which people with disabilities are asked the awkward questions that able-bodied people think but never ask. That series debuts on AMI TV June 20, and a French-language Quebec version recently aired on AMI-télé.
  • Don’t worry, Coronation Street is coming back, too.

Bell Media

CTV

  • The Big Bang Theory, which has been CTV’s biggest success over the past few years, is over, but that doesn’t mean it’s going off the schedule. The fall’s primetime schedule includes five slots for reruns of the show (three at 7:30pm on weekdays, and two on Saturday nights).
  • The schedule is heavy on ABC dramas, with seven of them, plus two half-hour ABC comedies. NBC is the smallest source of programming with just This Is Us and Law & Order: SVU.
  • There are no original scripted programs on the fall schedule. Instead, CTV is saving shows like medical drama Transplant, sci-fi series Albedo, and music documentary Pop Evolution for midseason.
  • One U.S. drama, L.A.’s Finest, doesn’t come from one of the big four networks, but is an original production for the Spectrum cable company.
  • Bell apparently regrets not predicting the success of ridiculous reality show The Masked Singer, and has added it to CTV’s schedule.
  • Saturday remains a dead zone against Hockey Night in Canada, and CTV will go with a movie of the week as filler.
  • With no overflow one-hour dramas being shown at 7pm, eTalk gets to be five nights a week.
  • No changes after 11pm. News, Trevor Noah, James Corden and Conan stick around, and presumably filler reruns on nights when they don’t air.

The full list of new U.S. acquisitions is here.

Returning original series to CTV:

  • Cardinal
  • The Beaverton
  • The Amazing Race Canada (this summer)
  • Canada’s Walk of Fame Awards

CTV2

Bell Media’s second network continues to earn its reputation as a dumping ground for overflow programming. Besides The Voice and NFL games, it has only two comedies (one of which airs a half-hour earlier on CTV). Everything else is reruns, including nine slots for The Big Bang Theory and three for Criminal Minds.

Specialty

The biggest news is that Bell Media is finally going through with its plan, announced a year ago during the 2018 upfront, to rebrand four specialty channels as CTV channels:

  • Space becomes CTV SciFi
  • Comedy becomes CTV Comedy
  • Bravo becomes CTV Drama
  • Gusto becomes CTV Life

It’s interesting that rather than tie the Space and Comedy brands to their U.S. counterparts (like they do with the Discovery channels, HBO, Starz, MTV, and E!), they’re expanding a Canadian brand that they’ll have no big-budget help in promoting.

For Bravo in particular, the move makes sense because of how much the Canadian version has departed from the U.S. version. The Canadian channel, with shows like The Handmaid’s Tale and Killing Eve, is drama-focused, while the U.S. Bravo has gone the reality route. But in case you think it’ll be all dark dramas, they’ve just announced a deal to produce original Harlequin movies as well.

For Gusto, an independent channel Bell acquired to give it a lifestyle brand, the move signifies a move to expand the scope from mainly food to also include home renovation, travel and lifestyle.

Several new original Canadian series are in the works for specialty, including three lifestyle shows for CTV Life, two documentaries and a comedy (plus Just For Laughs) for Crave, four documentary series for Discovery and two more for Investigation, and a documentary for Much Studios.

Corus

Global

  • Like CTV, Global is a dead zone on Saturday. They didn’t even bother presenting a schedule for that day, beyond mentioning Saturday Night Live. Though through a deal with Complex Networks, it is adding the series Hot Ones (a talk show in which guests eat spicy chicken wings) after SNL.
  • CBS programming is very heavy on Global’s schedule, with 10 one-hour dramas and two half-hour shows, plus the Late Show.
  • Modern Family, which was a big part of Citytv’s schedule because of all the reruns it would air, is moving to Global for its final season, as is Single Parents, which follows it on ABC. In exchange, Citytv is picking up the three Chicago series from Global.
  • A new addition to late night, the Carson Daly replacement A Little Late With Lilly Singh, airs at 1:35am, and Global has picked up the Canadian’s show. But with nothing new between 12:30 and 1:30 (Bell has the rights to both Seth Meyers and James Corden), it doesn’t have much of a lead-in.
  • Global is also adding a new daytime show, Tamron Hall, hosted by Tamron Hall. (It’s not clear what time slot it’ll be.)
  • Like CTV, Global has no new scripted original series for the fall. Just the reality show Border Security on Sunday nights, plus news and ET Canada.

The full list of original programs for Global TV and other Corus channels is here.

Specialty

New acquisitions for Corus’s English-language specialty channels are here.

Corus also announced it’s making custom content for Twitter and launching a new “male vertical.”

Rogers Media

Citytv

  • A very sparse schedule from the Rogers network that is still trying to get on the same level as CTV and Global. Nothing for Fridays at all, so instead they’ll do a “feel-good” romantic comedy or other heartwarming movie. Nothing exciting for the 7-8pm hour. And there’s new programming at 10pm only three nights a week — currently the fall schedule calls for Tuesday and Sunday nights to have reruns of Mom and Friday night to replay Canadian drama Hudson & Rex.
  • One pickup outside the Big Four: Mindy Kaling’s Four Weddings and a Funeral, which is a Hulu production.
  • Hudson & Rex, the cop-dog drama, is not only the only original Canadian drama on Citytv’s fall schedule, but the only Canadian drama on any of the private networks this fall. Citytv also has two new originals for midseason: Canadian-Irish historical drama Dead Still, Canadian sci-fi drama Vagrant Queen
  • In daytime, Citytv picks up the new Kelly Clarkson Show, which will air at 4pm weekdays.
  • Midseason, a few more dramas, including Godfather of Harlem, which airs on cable channel Epix in the U.S.

Sportsnet

Sportsnet’s schedule remains based on live sporting events. But Rogers announced that Sportsnet is starting a new original content studio for online platforms and social media.

Rogers also announced a new ad technology platform, in partnership with Contobox.

Independents

The smaller players — CHEK in Victoria, CHCH in Hamilton, NTV in St. John’s, and YesTV in Alberta and Ontario — once again joined forces as “IndieNET” to promote their fall programming. Unfortunately they don’t post their upfront details online, but Cartt.ca summarized the news:

  • Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy
  • U.S. newsmagazine shows 60 Minutes, 48 Hours and 20/20
  • Fox’s Empire

So, yeah.

7 thoughts on “Highlights from the Canadian TV 2019-20 upfronts

  1. media man

    I don’t see anything for the last 10 episodes of Criminal Minds,the so-called Last season..

    Maybe it’ll be added somewhere later,do you have any news on that placement??

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Criminal Minds is being held until midseason on CBS since it’s only 10 episodes. Even CBS doesn’t know what timeslot it will be yet.

      Reply
  2. Deborah Bee

    CBC is always promoting their GEM streaming service. Too bad some of the show’s on there arrnta on CBC tv.

    Reply
  3. Jack Nathanson

    Over the air broadcast television seems to be getting worser and worser. Global seems to be the only network that seems to have a few interesting programs on it, but perhaps that’s because Corus does not own a cable-tv system. CBC seems to be becoming a real disappointment. Maybe they’re just waiting until some future federal government pulls the plug on them.

    Reply
  4. Marc

    The big buzz is a Canadian version of Family Feud, […] It’s either a pointless Canadian adaptation of a brain-dead American game show, or an unfair use of taxpayer money to compete with private networks, or both, depending on your perspective.

    I’ll go with both.

    Reply
  5. Marc

    I noticed that The Blacklist is being showed outside of simulcast – that means they’re carrying the show but not sim-subbing it? Also Citytv carried NBC’s Manifest and CTV had Blindspot but they don’t appear. I know they were renewed but I guess they’re midseason?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I noticed that The Blacklist is being showed outside of simulcast – that means they’re carrying the show but not sim-subbing it?

      That is correct. The Blacklist is scheduled for Fridays at 8 on NBC, and Global already has CBS’s Hawaii Five-0 at that hour, which it apparently believes is more valuable.

      Also Citytv carried NBC’s Manifest and CTV had Blindspot but they don’t appear. I know they were renewed but I guess they’re midseason?

      Citytv has confirmed it will carry Manifest when it returns midseason (Mondays at 10pm). NBC has not yet decided where it’s putting Blindspot, and CTV didn’t include it in its announcement.

      Reply

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