Hot numbers for Dragon’s Den

CBC heads into the holidays with some nice audiences for the usual suspects, but sophomore Sophie is down 50% from its first season average, and will pack its bags along with Mosque to try a new night.

As CBC switches gears into holiday programming mode, execs are pleased as punch over what has been a strong fall for the pubcaster in prime time, bolstered by performances of reality series Dragon’s Den, The Rick Mercer Report and the always dependable Hockey Night in Canada.

The third outing of the entrepreneurial-themed Dragon’s Den is averaging 740,000 viewers season-to-date in its Monday 8 pm time slot, and netted nearly a million for last week’s episode. The show has been growing consistently since its debut drew only 220,000 viewers back in 2006 (all numbers 2+).

‘It took people a while to get used to the fact that reality TV was on CBC,’ says programming boss Kirstine Layfield, praising the show’s cast for connecting with viewers.

Rick Mercer remains the strongest scripted commodity on the Ceeb’s schedule, averaging nearly a million viewers on Tuesdays at 8 pm, while fellow news satire This Hour Has 22 Minutes follows with a respectable 692,000.

On the flip side, comedy Sophie is struggling in the low 300,000s, down 50% from its first-season average, while the third outing of Little Mosque on the Prairie is netting 597,000 – down from 800,000 for its second season.

Layfield blames the slide on the unpredictable Wednesday schedules in October, affected by a U.S. presidential debate and the 30-minute Barack Obama infomercial. ‘These interruptions didn’t help [Sophie and Mosque] get off the ground,’ she maintains, adding that she hopes the winter move to Monday night will help.

Immigration drama The Border remained on par with last season, nabbing around 700,000 viewers, while sexy historical series The Tudors averaged 604,000 viewers – down slightly from its first season performance.

‘CBC has had a very good fall,’ agrees Dennis Dinga, VP and director of broadcast investments at M2 Universal. ‘Overall tuning to TV is not down and specialty tuning did not grow, so I would suspect that people who tired of programming on Global and CTV tuned to CBC for their offerings,’ he adds.

Meanwhile, Hockey Night in Canada is scoring an average 1.3 million viewers for Game One, down to 741,000 for its second game, airing on Saturday nights.

CBC is planning to take advantage of the anticipated exponential holiday tune-ins this month to aggressively promote its winter schedule, according to Layfield. ‘[December] brings us a lot of viewers that try out CBC because they want to see the family programming,’ she notes.

CBC’s holiday schedule features a slew of movies including How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and specials from Cirque du Soleil and musician John McDermott.
From Playback Daily