Who’s up, who’s down: Specialty report

Subscription revenues rose in 2014 while national advertising dipped, according to the CRTC's report on specialty channels.
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“We know that some channels won’t make it. Everyone has four or five that won’t survive, or will be what they used to be.  That’s the way CRTC wants to run it, so we’ll try to win.”

Those were words from Phil King, president of CTV, sports and entertainment programming at Bell Media’s media day prior to its 2015 upfront presentation.

The frank comments on the future of specialty came just ahead of the CRTC’s 2014 specialty channel report, the annual run-down of non-conventional channel performance on Canadian TV.

Overall, specialty revenues were up 3.1% in 2014, moving to $4.2 billion dollars from $4.1 billion the previous year.

That jump was largely attributed to an increase in the area most at risk once unbundling comes into effect: subscription revenues. Specialty channels generated $160.3 million in revenue in 2014, and increase of 5.9%. The bump more than made up for a 4.2% drop in national advertising revenue, to the tune of $53.6 million.

Sports services were a major driver of revenues for the year, with revenues for channels like TSN, Sportsnet and RDS going up by $124.2 million or 13.6%. The number of sports channels available also increased in 2014, with TSN adding three regional feeds.

Canadian programming expenditures for specialty reached $1.5 billion in 2014, a jump of 12.6% compared to 2013. Expenditures in the sports vertical saw the largest increase, reporting a $132 million jump.

Spend on foreign programming increased by $46 million, landing at $574 million in 2014 from $528 million in 2013.

Here’s how the major channels fared in 2014 (listed by subscribers):

CBC News Network:
Subscribers: 11,376,354 (up 0.35%)
National advertising revenue: $19,538,932 (up 5.83%)

YTV (Corus Entertainment):
Subscribers: 11,154,698 (down 0.68%)
National advertising revenue $43,872,510 (down 15.86%)

TSN (Bell Media):
Subscribers: 9,050,153 (down 0.21%)
National advertising revenue: $118,645,699 (down 1.71%)

Sportsnet (Rogers Media):
Subscribers: 8,290,000 (down 2.44%)
National advertising revenue: $72,037,741 (up 4.62%)

W Network (Corus Entertainment):
Subscribers: 7,928,149 subscribers (down 4.23%)
National advertising revenue $52, 869, 152 (down 13.65%)

Discovery (Bell Media):
Subscribers: 7,560,436 subscribers (down 2.23%)
National advertising revenue: $47,768,274 (down 7.52%)

HGTV (Shaw Media)*:
Subscribers: 7,250,430 subscribers (down 19.61%)
National advertising revenue $58,096,644 (up 2.55%)

 Showcase (Shaw Media)*:
Subscribers: 7,127,950 (down 21.66%)
National advertising revenue: $42,553,141 (up 3.34%)

Space (Bell Media):
Subscribers: 6,355,043 (down 3.16%)
National advertising revenue: $26,527,579 (down 4.02%)

Food Network Canada (Shaw Media)*:
Subscribers: 6,201,097  (down 17.75%)
National advertising revenue: $52,666,823 (up 2.39%)

* Shaw Media’s subscriber reporting method changed from 2013 to 2014. Prior to 2014, Shaw Media submitted its specialty channels’ SD and HD subscribers separately to the CRTC. Beginning with the 2014 report, the company began reporting households that receive an SD and HD signal as single, unique subscribers. Consequently, the decline in Shaw Media’s reported subscribers is primarily due to this change.