CBC-TV fall season kicks off tonight

The pubcaster's homegrown cliffhangers return - some touting new integration deals.

CBC Television’s fall season launch is marked not only by more returning series than ever, but by the national public broadcaster’s increasingly active strategy offering advertisers show integration access.

With an average viewership of 503,000 last season, Dragons’ Den is back with season three tonight at 8 pm. The Gemini-nominated reality series’ newest sponsor, Export Development Canada, will be supporting the new season’s Lessons From the Den, where every week, two business lessons will be taught through various pitches and deals. Concrete Equities is also back for the Armchair Dragon contest, in which viewers vote for their favourite pitch that didn’t get a deal, giving the winner a second chance and $75,000 from Concrete Equities – $25K more than last year. As well, one voter will win a $10,000 Concrete Equities investment and a trip to Toronto to meet the ‘Dragons.’ Cadillac will also be back for its third season, giving the 2009 Cadillac CTS prominence during the introduction of each episode and making appearances throughout the Dragons’ bios.

Four of the dragons will also launch a new e-commerce website tonight to give viewers the power to purchase products pitched during the show. In addition to showcasing a variety of products from the show’s first two seasons, the site will feature items pitched during each new show of the season, as well as a list of fan favorites. The new website design and developed by Venture Communications, is a joint venture of Arlene Dickinson, Jim Treliving, Kevin O’Leary, and W. Brett Wilson and can be found at

Featured products called ‘Dragons’ Favorites’ will be prominently displayed on the website’s front page to coincide with each new episode. The site will be promoted during the show and linked to CBC’s main website to help drive traffic. Visitors to the site will also be able to post, add, or share the website with friends and contacts through a series of one-click links to online and social networking and bookmarking sites, including Facebook, MySpace, Reddit, Digg, and del.icio.us.

Later tonight at 9 pm, taking the time slot left by the cancelled Intelligence, The Border returns with season two. The action-drama about Canadian customs agents drew an average viewership of 631,000 last season, and earned nine Gemini nominations.

Season two of the Emmy-nominated The Tudors (pictured) premieres tomorrow night at 9 pm with higher stakes than ever as the dramatic history of England’s infamous royal, King Henry VIII, continues. Last season, The Tudors hit an average viewership of 673,000 and was nominated for 12 Gemini Awards. A new website has also been launched at www.cbc.ca/thetudors.

Little Mosque on the Prairie, which counted average viewership last season at 810,000, is back for the third season Wednesday at 8pm, with a new integration deal with insurance/financial services company The Co-operators. Arranged by OMD Toronto, the deal gives the advertiser storyline integration as the characters go through various ‘life moments’ that impel interaction with the brand. Picking up where last season’s cliffhanger left off, the 20-episode season debuts with pent-up viewer anticipation over whether Rayan (Sitara Hewitt) will say yes to an arranged marriage.

The second season of Sophie debuts at 8:30 pm Wednesday. The show’s premiere season had an average viewership of 508,000, many of whom were left wondering what Sophie would decide now that the father of her baby has moved back to town. The quirky character is back with 18 new episodes.

Season two of the family drama Heartland is back Sunday at 7 pm with 18 new episodes. With an average debut season viewership of 539,000, the show is sure to please country music fans as Juno-award winning George Canyon joins the cast for several episodes as Charlie Wells, father of overly friendly neighbour Mallory (Jessica Amlee). Canyon’s music will also be featured in advance of the release of his latest album.

Royal Canadian Air Farce, which came in at an average viewership of 629,000 last season, is heading into its final flight Friday at 8 pm after 35 years on CBC Radio and Television. The record-breaking series, which launches with guest-star athletes who won medals in Beijing, will end with a New Year’s Eve special Dec. 31 at 8 pm.

CÉLINE, which premieres on CBC Television Sunday at 8pm, chronicles the pop superstar’s rise to fame. At 10 pm Sunday, CBC Newsworld kicks off its Passionate Eye season with the world premiere of Liberty USA, a portrait of the American psyche as the U.S. prepares to a elect a new president. And Disappearing Act launches a new season of The Fifth Estate this Wednesday at 9 pm, revealing the story of David Reiner, a bookkeeper accused of siphoning money from non-profit daycare centres.

With files from strategy and Playback.