CTV’s Launch: Dancing with the Pros

Direct from her sensational dance number yesterday (see below), Starcom MediaVest Group's SVP/investment director shares her professional opinions about CTV's new season with MiC.

So here we are again. It’s the first week of June and another upfront season has arrived. We have already learned about the new program acquisitions made by Canwest and CHUM since their trip to LA just a few weeks ago.

However, CTV kept their schedule under wraps and only last night did Ivan Fecan, president/CEO, CTVGlobemedia and CEO, CTV, and Susanne Boyce, president of CTV programming, unveil the fall 2007 schedule at Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

It was no surprise that CTVGlobemedia’s partnership with the National Football League, which was a news headline just a month ago, would be something to boast about and welcome at the upfront.

But what was a surprise to most, and became the real kick-off to the fall presentation, was the on-stage debut of ‘So You Think You Can Dance? . . . With a Media Star.’ Ben Mulroney introduced the five couples – professional dancers paired with agency media executives. And yes, I was one of those media stars, proud to represent Starcom MediaVest. Perhaps a little nervous, perhaps a little dazed and amazed, but definitely proud, and thankful for the entire experience, from rehearsals through to show time.

So what about the fall line-up? OK, alright, I’m getting there. It is only fitting for a broadcaster to highlight its accomplishments of the past season – and for some, that can be a stretch. But CTVGlobemedia has the bragging rights of being the #1 broadcaster in Canada. It has become the media force to be reckoned with, with 16 returning top 20 hits. As Boyce stated at the event, ‘If it’s big, it’s on CTV.’

However, there can be some programming challenges with being #1, particularly in the ability to maximize simulcast opportunities. It is clear that CTV did not want to jeopardize the sacred 9-11pm window, ensuring that proven performers like Criminal Minds, Grey’s Anatomy and CSI: New York are in simulcast.

This resulted in some new entries in a pre-release position and some pushed back to the 8pm time slot, including the much talked-about and very quirky Pushing Daisies (CTV Tues at 8pm; ABC Wed at 8pm) and the Grey’s Anatomy spin-off Private Practice (CTV Wed at 8pm; ABC Wed at 9pm).

In fact, ER (most likely in its final year) has been pushed back to 7pm on Thursday to make room for Big Shots at 10pm, which looks hot and should be a crowd pleaser, especially among women in my (mature) demographic. A drama about four male CEOs and their personal lives, Big Shots stars Dylan McDermott, Michael Vartan, Joshua Malina and Christopher Titus. But if the series is ‘not big enough,’ ER will simply slip back into its place.

In total, CTV has seven new programs, six dramas and one comedy. From the producer of Two and a Half Men, Big Bang Theory – a comedy about two computer geek pals – will make its debut this fall. One drama that could become the winner among young adults/teens is CW’s Gossip Girls, from the producer of The O.C., scheduled to air Tuesday at 7pm. This drama is set in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where gossip rules and money flows, and is based on the best-selling novels by Cecily von Ziegesar.

Other than Big Shots, the only other new program in the 9-11pm territory is Dirty Sexy Money on Sunday night, following Desperate Housewives. Unfortunately, this intriguing drama starring Donald Sutherland and Peter Krause (Six Feet Under) is not in simulcast and is most likely going to be up against Brothers and Sisters on Global. Perhaps it’s strong enough to survive and thrive – and certainly many true and loyal Canadian fans will be rooting for you, Donald.

Well, I suppose this is the end of my article and my 15 minutes of fame. Today, there will be no limousine, no one to pick out my wardrobe or fuss over my every move. But the dance fever will linger for some time and the memory forever. I’ll be back in MiC in a few days to comment on the Canwest launch.

Note: CTV’s prime-time grid can be viewed at Fall 2007 CTV Network Grid.pdf