Tag Archives: Food Network Canada

Rogers kneecaps Corus, stealing Canadian rights to HGTV and Food Network

If you’re a fan of lifestyle channels like HGTV and Food Network in Canada, things are going to change dramatically as of January 2025, when Rogers acquires the Canadian rights to those brands, along with the Cooking Channel, Investigation Discovery and more.

Rogers announced this morning as part of its fall preview announcements that it has signed a deal with Warner Bros. Discovery and NBCUniversal to become the Canadian home to Warner’s factual and lifestyle brands as of January, and NBC’s Bravo as of September.

These deals include both the Canadian rights to those brands as well as to U.S. programming of those networks.

A complete list of brands isn’t included in the announcement, but Corus confirms these brands are affected:

  • HGTV
  • Food Network
  • Cooking Channel
  • Magnolia Network
  • OWN

Children’s brands like Adult Swim and Cartoon Network are not affected by this announcement.

Warner also owns the following Discovery brands with Canadian versions managed by Bell Media:

  • Discovery Channel
  • Animal Planet
  • Investigation Discovery
  • Science Channel (Discovery Science)
  • Motor Trend (Discovery Velocity)

So what does this mean for those channels? Well, it’s unclear, actually. When I asked about this, a Bell Media spokesperson at first said “it’s business as usual,” but followed up Monday evening with this statement:

Bell Media is Canada’s foremost media company, with industry-leading assets across every content genre. Our long-standing partnership, content, and brand arrangements for the Discovery Canada channels includes protections against the launch of competing services. We fully intend to assert our rights with a view to protecting our business.

Cartt.ca noticed that in its upfront announcement last week, Bell Media avoided using Discovery brands and referred to some series as being only on “Bell Media Specialty Channel”.

Bravo used to also be a Canadian channel until Bell rebranded it CTV Drama in 2019. Rogers says it will launch a new Canadian Bravo channel, though I’m waiting to hear if their plan is to create a new TV channel or rebrand an existing one like OLN.

For HGTV, Food and Cooking, it gets a bit more complicated. Not only does Corus have channels by those names, but it has a lot of the U.S. programming on those Canadian channels. On top of that, the Canadian channels of HGTV, Food Network, Cooking Channel and Magnolia are about 16-19% owned by Warner Bros. Discovery.

Corus quietly issued a vaguely-worded statement on Friday saying some “programming and trademark output arrangements” wouldn’t be renewed. But it says Corus intends to “continue operating the country’s largest and most widely distributed lifestyle channels based on the strength of top-rated Canadian programs and alternate foreign content supply.”

This will likely mean the channels we know as HGTV, Food Network and Cooking Channel will rebrand as of January, and while some Canadian content will remain the same, the U.S. shows associated with them will move to Rogers-owned channels.

Rogers doesn’t have enough specialty channel licences to rebrand into all these, so assuming they go ahead with linear channels, it would require new licences. Thankfully, the CRTC allows new channels to launch without prior approval. They just have to apply for a licence once they hit 200,000 subscribers (which probably won’t take long).

Broadcast Dialogue reports Rogers saying “distribution details are still being finalized with an eye to a mix of linear and streaming options.”

Corus blames the change on “inequitable structural relationships in the Canadian media and telecom industries, particularly affecting independent broadcasters like Corus.”

In other words, since Rogers bought Shaw (whose family still owns Corus), Rogers has deeper pockets and more power to acquire these kinds of rights. Meanwhile Corus, which no longer has the deep pockets of a cable giant, has to get by as an independent now.

This kind of change could be potentially life-threatening for Corus. If it loses its audience to the same brands it and its predecessors have spent decades building, the loss of subscription and ad revenue could not only devastate Corus’s lifestyle brands, but the Global network as well. (Corus is still waiting for the CRTC to authorize Global to access the Independent Local News Fund, since Rogers took away its cross-subsidy funding from Shaw to redirect it to Citytv stations.)

The markets would seem to agree. Corus’s stock fell 29% on Monday, to an all-time low of 34 cents per share. As recently as 2022 it was worth 10 times that.

Back when Corus did this

There is some precedent for this kind of change, and ironically it was Corus doing the stealing that time. In 2015, after DHX Media (now WildBrain) acquired Family Channel, Disney Jr. and Disney XD out of the Bell Media/Astral deal, Corus announced it had signed a deal with Disney for Canadian rights to its children’s channel brands. DHX rebranded the channels to Family Jr. and Télémagino, while Corus launched new channels under the Disney Channel, Disney Jr. and Disney XD brands. DHX had to find non-Disney children’s content to fill their schedule.

Now Corus will get a taste of that medicine, only on a larger and more expensive scale.