Family hits top among specialties

Bolstered by hit series including The Latest Buzz, Family Channel has become Canada's number-one pay and specialty channel among 2+ viewers. Meanwhile, CTV scored with the Junos.

Astral Media’s Family Channel has climbed to the top of the heap in Canada’s specialty channel landscape, buoyed by popular US and domestic shows including Disney’s Hannah Montana and its newest homegrown series, The Latest Buzz, which follows a group of students who take the reins at a struggling teen-oriented magazine.

Buzz, from Toronto’s Decode Entertainment, drew 322,000 viewers (2+) to its premiere episode on March 14, according to BBM Nielsen, making it the most-watched series premiere in Family’s 20-year history. The previous record holder was the Disney series Wizards of Waverly Place, which debuted last October with an average 276,000 viewers.

Family says the success of its domestic series, including Buzz, Life with Derek and Naturally Sadie, along with Disney offerings including the top-rated Hannah Montana, have secured the channel status as Canada’s most-watched specialty among 2+ viewers for the 2007/08 broadcast season thus far.

In the number-two spot is sports stalwart TSN, though a spokesperson for the channel points out that it remains Canada’s top-rated commercial specialty station and the most-watched among adults. (Family is commercial-free, generating its revenue exclusively through subscriber revenue).

‘We’re always proud when our commitment to Canadian programming translates into ratings success,’ comments Family VP/GM Joe Tedesco, referring to Buzz.

Meanwhile, TSN sister CTV scored with its Sunday telecast of the 2008 Juno Awards. The annual music fete grabbed 1.4 million viewers, cushioned by a significant marketing push and big-name host Russell Peters. The two-hour broadcast from Calgary enjoyed a hefty increase over last year’s viewership of 925,000. Audience levels peaked at 1.7 million when Canuck icon Anne Murray performed with Jann Arden and Sarah Brightman.

From Playback Daily