Summer TV ratings slumping in Canada but not as bad as in the U.S.
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:
“Thrones” most watched
“GAME THRONES” OF thundered back a little late this year, returning to HBO Canada in mid-July instead of its usual April start. The season 7 première 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-year-olds. 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-year-old 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 road show “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 première 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 that 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.”
Are viewers binged out from watching too much “peak TV”?