View­er­ship down

Sum­mer TV rat­ings slump­ing in Canada but not as bad as in the U.S.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ENTERTAINMENT - BY BILL BRIOUX Bill Brioux is a free­lance TV colum­nist based in Bramp­ton, Ont.

Cana­di­ans are still watch­ing “Amer­ica’s Got Tal­ent’’ and “Game of Thrones’’ this sum­mer — but over­all, view­er­ship is down.

Ac­cord­ing to rat­ings com­piled by the Canadian data ser­vice Numeris, av­er­age minute au­di­ences dur­ing prime time on con­ven­tional and spe­cialty chan­nels have been down nine per cent be­tween the end of May through mid-July, com­pared to the same pe­riod last year.

In the U.S., ac­cord­ing to Nielsen, the drop off is even more pro­nounced — es­pe­cially with en­ter­tain­ment-themed pro­gram­ming at the net­work level. Among adults 18 to 49 — the demo most favoured by ad­ver­tis­ers — rat­ings are down be­tween 14 per cent at Fox and a whop­ping 25 per cent for CBS.

Are view­ers binged out from watch­ing too much “peak TV’’? Are scripted shows just not cut­ting it this sum­mer? Is it the weather? Here’s a look at the changing TV land­scape:

“Game of Thrones’’ thun­dered back a lit­tle late this year, re­turn­ing to HBO Canada in midJuly in­stead of its usual April start. The sea­son 7 pre­miere on July 16 slayed the com­pe­ti­tion, draw­ing over 1.8 mil­lion total view­ers. That made it HBO Canada’s most-watched episode of anything, ever.

And that’s only count­ing peo­ple who have seen it legally. “Game of Thrones’’ is the most pi­rated TV show on the air.

So far, it’s the sum­mer’s No. 1 drama among 25- to 54-yearolds. Among view­ers of all ages, it ranks be­hind only “Amer­ica’s Got Tal­ent’’ on City (av­er­ag­ing al­most 1.85 mil­lion weekly view­ers) and “The Amaz­ing Race Canada’’ on CTV (al­most 1.76 mil­lion).

Re­al­ity Still Rules

View­er­ship for “Amer­ica’s Got Tal­ent’’ on City is up slightly over last sum­mer and up 24 per cent com­pared with two sum­mers ago.

City has seen even stronger gains by im­port­ing three new game/re­al­ity shows on Thurs­day nights. “Beat Shazam,’’ “Love Connection’’ and “The Gong Show’’ have pushed their 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Thurs­day sched­ule up 79 per cent com­pared with last sum­mer.

The CBS im­port “Big Brother’’ re­mains a win­ner for Global, rank­ing fourth among all sum­mer of­fer­ings for 25- to 54-yearold view­ers. “Amer­i­can Ninja War­rior’’ and “Masterchef’’ re­main Top 10 sum­mer im­ports with the same au­di­ence on CTV.

CBC’s sum­mer rat­ings are ac­tu­ally up two per cent this sum­mer to date, ac­cord­ing to Numeris. One rea­son is the strong third sea­son re­turn of Jonny Har­ris’s com­edy road­show “Still Stand­ing,’’ up 19 per cent com­pared to last year at this time. The pub­lic broad­caster also got a lift from its cov­er­age of Canada Day cel­e­bra­tions, es­pe­cially Peter Mans­bridge’s fi­nal five-hour broad­cast as chief news an­chor, which av­er­aged just un­der a mil­lion view­ers.

The big­gest new re­al­ity show win­ner is “World of Dance.’’ The Jen­nifer Lopez se­ries ranks fourth in Canada, draw­ing close to 1.4 mil­lion weekly CTV view­ers.

Sports Still A Win­ner

Sport­snet has main­tained its prime-time au­di­ences yearover-year this sum­mer. Rogers claims it ranks as Canada’s third most-watched TV sta­tion (be­hind only CTV and Global).

This de­spite the Toronto Blue Jays slide in the stand­ings. Jays games are down sum­mer-to sum­mer but they are still 27 per cent ahead of where they were two years ago, av­er­ag­ing 738,000 view­ers. That’s just enough to keep the team in Canada’s TV Top 20.

Less Dra­matic Sum­mer

Not that long ago, ex­pen­sive, sci-fi-based dra­mas such as “Un­der the Dome’’ and Halle Berry’s “Ex­tant’’ gave broad­cast net­works a sea­sonal jolt. This sum­mer, the few dra­mas the net­works have of­fered are be­ing largely ig­nored. Shows such as “Some­where Be­tween’’ and “Mid­night, Texas’’ are getting lit­tle buzz. CBC’s soc­cer drama, “21 Thun­der,’’ had a quiet pre­miere in the overnight rat­ings.

“‘Peak TV’ has ab­so­lutely taken its toll,’’ says rat­ings watcher Marc Berman of The Pro­gram­ming In­sider. “There is just too much con­tent vy­ing for eye­balls, which makes it more dif­fi­cult than ever be­fore for new con­tent to get sam­pled.’’

Stream­ing For Gold

The age of big sum­mer net­work spend­ing may be over as broad­cast­ers ramp up their stream­ing brands. All that money CBS used to spend on “Un­der the Dome’’ or on im­port­ing Canadian dra­mas such as “Flash­point’’ and “Rookie Blue’’ has gone into “Star Trek Dis­cov­ery,’’ blast­ing off on CBS Dig­i­tal (and Space in Canada) in Septem­ber.

This past week in Los An­ge­les, CBS En­ter­tain­ment pres­i­dent Kelly Kahl told re­porters his net­work is de­ter­mined to stay ahead of changes in the tele­vi­sion in­dus­try.

“The rat­ings driven by our shows used to be the sole barom­e­ter of our suc­cess,’’ he said. “Now it’s just the start­ing line. To­day, we’re in the eye­balls busi­ness, just like YouTube, Google, and Face­book.’’


Although view­er­ship is down, Cana­di­ans are still watch­ing “Game of Thrones.’’ This im­age re­leased by HBO shows Niko­laj Coster-Wal­dau as Jaime Lan­nis­ter in an episode of “Game of Thrones” which aired Aug. 6.

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