XM Canada’s got Oprah & Friends, but Canadian advertisers must deal with US

Landing the big O for Canadian airwaves may have been a coup, but Canadian advertisers aren't exactly being courted.

Two months short of its first anniversary, XM Canada, which is owned by Toronto-based Canadian Satellite Radio Holdings, and claims 120,000 Canadian subscribers, landed what’s undeniably the biggest fish in the broadcasting sea when the Oprah & Friends channel launched on both sides of the border on Sept. 25.

Even though satellite radio is touted as being commercial-free for its music offerings – with talk and news up for grabs – 13 major American marketers quickly bought time on Oprah Winfrey’s new channel, making it the most successful launch on XM USA to date in terms of ad sales. Among them are Honda, Air Tran, Rinnai, Acuvue, Crown Publishing, Dove, GE, Iams, JC Penney, Jenny Craig, SlimFast, Rozerum, Snapple, Splenda, Target and Warners TrueFit.

Their enthusiasm is understandable, given the surefire probability of attracting hordes of listeners to the range of caller-driven, original talk programming created and produced by Harpo Radio exclusively for XM satellite radio – much of it echoing enormously successful features on Winfrey’s TV show and O, The Oprah Magazine.

So would Canadian marketers be well advised to make a beeline for Oprah & Friends? Toronto-based XM Canada advertising sales manager Paul Williams tells Media in Canada that the channel ‘is the perfect vehicle for North America-wide advertisers’ because their messages will be heard on both sides of the border.

Have Canadian marketers and their media agencies expressed interest since Winfrey’s channel debuted? ‘I’ve probably had about three calls so far,’ says Williams. ‘And all I can tell you is that they were from the travel industry, which makes a lot of sense.’ For the foreseeable future, he added, anyone who’s interested in advertising on Oprah & Friends should contact him, after which he will ‘put them in touch with XM’s nearest sales office.’ For Toronto-area marketers, that would be in Chicago.