Upfronts ’19: Rogers Media unveils lineup, new ad partnership and more

A partnership with Toronto-based platform Contobox and a new custom content shop from Sportsnet added to the presentation.

Citytv on Thursday revealed a much-changed lineup for 2019/20, with a pair of newly commissioned Canadian series lining up alongside 15 new international pick ups and 17 returning acquisitions.

On the Canadian content front, Rogers added the Ireland/Canada treaty copro Dead Still (6 x 60 minutes) and the recently announced sci-fi series Vagrant Queen (10 x 60 minutes) to its midseason lineup.

What’s on TV?

Dead Still is currently shooting in and around Dublin with the series is set to premiere next year on Citytv. Set in 1880s Ireland, the period drama follows a renowned memorial photographer as he investigates the murders of his recently deceased subjects. Exec producers on the project are Paul Donovan, Ailish McElmeel, Christina Jennings, and Scott Garvie.

Citytv also renewed Hudson & Rex for a second season (16 x 60 minutes), with the second block of season one set to begin airing on Citytv next month. The series is based on a European format about a police detective and his hardworking dog.

Rogers also said Thursday that a further six Canadian series are in development with Citytv. As of press time, no further details about those series was available.

Absent from Thursday’s programming announcement was the hour-long mafia drama Bad Blood (New Metric Media, Sphere Média Plus), which was picked up by Netflix internationally in November. MiC sister publication Playback Daily understands that further announcements about the show are expected in the coming months. Meanwhile, The Murders and Bletchley Circle: San Francisco were also absent from the lineup. Updates on those series are also expected at a later date, according to VP, TV programming and content, Hayden Mindell.

On the international front, there are a number of significant changes for 2019/20. Notably, Citytv no longer has the Canadian broadcasting rights to half-hour comedy Modern Family, which is switching to Global for its final season. The Corus Entertainment net also picked up the sophomore season of Single Parents, which had previously aired on Citytv.

There were shows headed in the other direction, too, as Rogers acquired Canadian rights to NBC’s Chicago franchise, which had previously aired on Global. Rogers has scheduled those shows to air back-to-back on Wednesday nights, with Chicago Med at 8 p.m., Chicago Fire at 9 p.m. and Chicago PD at 10 p.m.

Other new international series joining Citytv’s fall lineup are 30-minute animated comedy series Bless the Harts (Sundays at 8:30 p.m), hour-long scripted drama series Bluff City Law (Mondays at 10 p.m.), scripted drama series Four Weddings and a Funeral (Thursdays at 10 p.m.), hour-long talk show The Kelly Clarkson Show (weekdays at 4 p.m.), half-hour scripted comedy Mixed-ish (Tuesdays at 9 p.m.) and comedy Perfect Harmony (Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.).

Meanwhile, new additions to midseason include The Baker and the BeautyCouncil of DadsGodfather of Harlem and Lincoln, in addition to Dead Still and Vagrant Queen. Premiere dates and times for these series will be announced at a later date.

The changes to the lineup are part of a strategy to add a larger range of viewers to Citytv, Mindell told Playback Daily, with procedurals such as the Chicago franchise and Bluff City Law expected to appeal to a wide demographic. However, Mindell says the key demo of women, younger viewers and Ontario viewers is still an important part of its programming decisions.

Returning series for Citytv include The Bachelor and The Bachelorette franchise, A Million Little ThingsManifestBlack-ish, Bob’s Burgers, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Dancing with the Stars, Family Guy, Hockey Night in Canada, Little Big Shots, Mom and The Simpsons.

Rogers updates RED

Rogers Media also unveiled an update to its Rogers Enabled Data (RED) initiative, which it introduced last year. The company has partnered with engagement platform Contobox, created by Toronto-based Crucial Interactive, to optimize campaigns. Now known as RED Contobox, the ad tech platform promises that advertisers will only pay for 100% viewable, user-initiated engagements.

RED Contobox will use Rogers’ first-party data solutions, utilizing anonymous and aggregated data to activate against specific segments. Agencies can  work with RED Contobox as both a managed and programmatic service. Contobox will provide the display and video features in order to keep audiences interacting with brands, including chatbots, dynamic creative, custom games and more.  

Sportsnet gets custom

There was other news emanating from Rogers HQ on Thursday as Sportsnet revealed it is launching multiplatform original content studio in Toronto. Rogers said the new studio will allow space for Sportsnet personalities, including Faizal Khamisa, Danielle Michaud, Donnovan Bennett, and Steve Dangle, to produce digital and social content that complements its TV, radio, and online content.

Content will include new video segments customized for different social platforms (Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Sportsnet.ca). They will enable fans to vote, comment, share and interact in order to enhance their experiences.

A version of this story appears in Playback.