Veteran TV exec Maria Hale departs Corus

Hale's exit follows a year of massive improvement for conventional network Global.

Maria Hale_CE-0084-1Corus Entertainment’s SVP of Global Entertainment and content acquisition Maria Hale has left the company, MiC sister publication Playback Daily has confirmed.

Veteran TV exec Hale joined the company in 2011 as VP, television, head of programming and production. A year and a half later she was upped to VP of television, and head of digital and content distribution, and after that to VP, television  head of digital, content distribution and pay TV.

Most recently, following Corus’ acquisition of Shaw Media in early 2016, Hale was upped to SVP of Global Entertainment and content acquisition. Her final day was Friday, May 10.

Her exit comes just days before Canadian television acquisition execs travelled to the U.S. to attend the Los Angeles Upfronts and stake their claims on upcoming series for the coming year. Corus’ own presentation to media and the advertising industry is scheduled for June 3.

Hale’s final season with Corus, by the numbers

This past year’s TV season has been largely a success story for Corus’ flagship conventional network Global, with Hale and the acquisitions team able to take much of the credit. After the 2017-18 slate of premieres, which Hale herself admitted to MiC was an “anomaly”, this past fall saw ratings rise 15% for 2+ during premiere week. Additionally, ratings in the 18 to 34 demo were up 5%, the 18 to 49 demo was up 24% and 25 to 54 (the demo Global sells against) was lifted by 25%.

Speaking with MiCHale said the goal was to build a schedule around more purpose-driven and heartfelt dramas, even those in the more action-packed procedural category. “Last year, we had a lot of heroes on our schedule – lots of heroes with guns, lots of big action,” she said, referencing the onslaught of shows like SEAL Team and The Brave. “This year, we wanted to show more of a human hero, heroes with heart.”

Hale added that a key strategy the team followed this year was to “let things breathe” when it came to series that might not have been rating hits right away. She says Global was the first Canadian network to bank on the 2018 midseason pickup 9-1-1, which went onto steadily rise in AMA before moving to the fall season. She also noted the gradual lift in ratings for comedy The Good Place, which saw its third season premiere take an AMA of 887,400, up 16% from its second season premiere.

She said a key part of Global’s strategy was also balancing its significant acquisition spending with money to market the shows, with its media plan often changing on the fly.

The strategy appears to have paid off for Corus, with revenues flat in Q4 followed by lifts in the first and second quarter. TV revenues in particular have been rising for the entertainment giant, up 5% in the second quarter ($353.5 million, $211.3 of which came from ads).

Some duties and reports to change

With Hale’s departure, Corus’ SVP of TV networks Daniel Eves will see his remit expand to include oversight of content acquisition. VP of acquisitions Arthur Reinstein, who previously reported to Hale, will now report to Eves. Going forward, Corus said that Colin Bohm, EVP content and corporate strategy, Troy Reeb, EVP of broadcast networks, and Eves will jointly oversee all strategic partnerships.

Prior to joining Corus, Hale was VP of content at Telus and before that was VP of content business development at CHUM.

Earlier in the year Corus revealed a change to its organizational structure that brought its TV, radio and digital platforms under the newly created “broadcast networks” umbrella. At the time, Reeb was tapped to lead the broadcast networks portfolio as EVP, with oversight of Corus’ 44 specialty TV services, 39 radio stations and 15 conventional television stations, in addition to its digital platforms.

Recent commissions for Global include medical drama Nurses and Departure.

A version of this story appears in Playback.