CTV turns TV Land into Comedy Gold

The Category 2 channel, skewed toward an older audience with a slate of retro programming, is being rebranded to better promote it to consumers.

CTV continues to freshen up its stable of specialty offerings with plans to rebrand TV Land Canada as Comedy Gold, beginning Aug. 2, the broadcaster announced on Monday.

The channel – which offered classic movies and TV shows – needed a new focus, says Isme Bennie, who heads up Bravo! and is currently interim VP at The Comedy Network and Space.

‘[TV Land] has somewhat onerous conditions of licence – the scripted programming has to be 15 years old and the movies, 25 years old. So TV Land has just been a mixture of all kinds of programming. It’s not really [sending] a clear message,’ says Bennie.

The older-skewing Comedy Gold is meant to complement CTV’s existing Comedy Network, the latter of which offers edgier programming and stand-up comedy, while Gold’s schedule will be comprised of classic sitcoms from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, SCTV and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

‘Calling one Comedy [Network] and the other Comedy Gold just gives us additional synergy to cross-promote and to possibly offer subscribers a packaged deal,’ explains Bennie, who says CTV’s research has indicated there’s a demand for the older sitcoms.

Kim Dougherty, director of national broadcast investments, OMD, says she was surprised to hear about the rebranded channel, given that it was not announced at the upfront presentation.

‘I am not confident that this station will be successful,’ she comments. ‘It has been done before and usually loses audience after the trial period. The shows on the roster can be seen in many places and this certainly won’t be the only venue this time around. I think that people will get tired of this after awhile, as they are not looking for the same entertainment we were in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. Things have changed and sitcoms are clearly not the priority. People are looking for different and this does not offer that. They also are trying to get an older audience, and they will, but not as big as they would hope. There is too much fragmentation in the market and we are not going to watch what we have already seem in our younger years. We want what is new!’

Comedy Gold is the fourth specialty channel to be rejigged this year following a deal with Discovery earlier this month, in which CTV will debut three new services including Discovery World HD (also debuting Aug. 2), Investigation Discovery (Aug. 30) and Discovery Science (Sept. 27). The new Discovery channels are also replacing existing services.

Comedy Gold will kick off on Aug. 2 with a special launch marathon that will feature great women of sitcom including Mary Tyler Moore and Murphy Brown.

This article was updated at 12:28 p.m.