E! returns…with CTV

The E! Entertainment Television brand is headed back to Canada, this time with CTV.

The US E! Entertainment brand is back in Canada on the Star! specialty channel, this time with CTV. It’s complicated.

‘It’s a really good place for E! to be. Star! has an audience already gravitating to the channel,’ Duccio Donati, executive vice president of Comcast International Media Group told MiC‘s sister site Playback Daily after the US media player unveiled a program supply and licensing deal with CTV on Monday.

In its latest incarnation, CTV is to rebrand the existing Star! Specialty channel as E! Canada from November 29, and immediately get the E!-branded channel into 6.2 million homes.

E! shows have been on Star! before, specifically between 1999 and 2007 when then CHUM Ltd. had a program supply deal with Comcast to exclusively broadcast U.S.-originated E! shows in Canada under the Star! banner.

But Comcast in 2007 chose to sign an ill-fated program supply and licensing deal with then Canwest Global Communications to rebrand the secondary CH network as E! Canada from September 2007.

Two years later in September 2009, Canwest Global pulled the plug on the E!-branded Canadian over-the-air network as the broadcaster faced hard times.

Comcast, which wasn’t happy to see its popular US brand devalued north of the border by Canwest Global’s court-directed bankruptcy protection, now sees better days ahead for its latest Canadian collaboration.

‘When you take those successful [E!] franchises, a brand that’s already known to Canadians, and pour it into a specialty channel, then you have a far better chance of success,’ Donati explained, referring to popular E! shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Chelsea Lately and The Soup that will top-line the rebranded E! Canada channel.

CTV’s rebranded E! channel will feature 50% Canadian content throughout the year, and 40% in prime time.

That means existing celebrity-driven shows from CTV, including eTalk, will also be featured on the upstart E! specialty channel.

Donati said airing Canadian-made E! shows on his US-based E! channel is not yet part of the pact with CTV, but is something his company would look at down the road.

‘Right now, we want to get the [Canadian] network right,’ he said, before he added that Canadian content shows sell widely internationally, and so could make it on to the US network.

The Comcast exec said E! Canada will have access to both current and library series from its US partner to target local audiences and advertisers.

‘To us, the key is the channel, in terms of programming, will reflect the US channel as closely as possible, while also including Canadian content shows,’ Donati said.

The multi-platform output deal will also see CTV secure exclusive access to varied digital media assets in Canada, including mobile and VOD content. That will enable the launch of an Eonline.ca website to feature local and US shows.

From Playback Daily