TVO targets parents with Yahoo, Ceeb peers up on BitTorrent

Ontario's public broadcaster is set to reel in new audiences with a digital strategy. And CBC is one of the first major North American casters to release prime-time fare on the popular file-sharing system. Next Great PM

TVO has signed a deal with Yahoo Canada, the public television operator’s first with an online provider, to offer up educational text and video content to parents on the portal. The deal is part of TVO’s ‘going digital’ strategy, which implements a multi-platform distribution approach to drawing in new audiences.

TVO CEO Lisa de Wilde says the broadcaster is ‘exploring new revenue streams and business models’ while pushing content out through alternative distribution channels. ‘By integrating our parent-focused educational content with a major online content provider like Yahoo Canada, we can reach more people, while showcasing the relevance of our trusted brand,’ she says.

The grab for web-savvy parents will initially aim to engage by using resources relevant to their children’s schooling. Content will touch on subjects ranging from managing homework time to dealing with bullying, and include a compilation of resources for parents of children with autism and a complete inventory of TVO’s Your Voice, the online interactive program for parents.

ComScore’s January 2008 rankings peg Yahoo Canada’s monthly reach at 16.5 million Canadians – an audience that TVO considers significantly untapped. About 40% of Canadians use the web for educational purposes.

TVO’s news follows the release on Sunday of the CBC special Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister on BitTorrent – making the Ceeb one of the first major North American casters to use the file-sharing system to release prime-time programming. The show, in which contestants compete in front of a panel of former PMs for the title and a $50,000 prize, aired Sunday.

But the net’s head of factual entertainment, Julie Bristow, says it was a one-time affair, and the pubcaster has no plans to make other programming available through BitTorrent. ‘It’s not a precedent that we’re setting. . . it’s really just specific to this show at the moment,’ she says, adding, ‘We wanted to reach a mass audience. . . it’s all about participation and awareness.’

Participants were recruited through YouTube, and Bristow says since the show, which is aimed at a young adult audience, started out with a big digital outreach, they wanted to experiment with giving it back to the audience. ‘We certainly have a sense that there was good activity in terms of sharing, but it’s too early to track how it did.’

A version of this story appeared in Playback Daily.