How premiere week played out: CTV

The new schedule's got heart, edge and views. But what are the areas content and programming president Mike Cosentino is watching most closely?

Get ready to snuggle up on the couch and turn on the tube – Canada’s TV networks have officially pressed play on their fall seasons.

With the new and returning shows underway and the Numeris results for premiere week recently released, MiC has had a chance to review the results and catch up with the two biggest conventional networks in Canada – Corus Entertainment’s Global and Bell Media’s CTV – to do a premiere week post-morterm.

Both networks are laying claim to the top glory. While Global had four out of five shows in the top-five for AMAs, CTV easily grabbed the coveted number-one show with The Good Doctor.

As a reminder, here’s premiere week’s top-five in terms of AMAs, according to Numeris (all views are 2+).

1. The Good Doctor on CTV Monday at 10 p.m.: 86,000 2.6 million viewers
2. New Amsterdam on Global Tuesday at 10:08 p.m.: 2.5 million viewers
3. Survivor on Global Wednesday at 8 p.m.: 2.2 million viewers
4. 9-1-1 on Global Monday at 8 p.m.: 2.1 million viewers
5. NCIS on Global Tuesday at 8 p.m.: 2.05 million viewers

Yesterday, MiC spoke with Corus’ Daniel Eves about how Global’s strategy paid off. Today, it was Mike Cosentino of Bell Media who got to talk about the success of CTV’s slate.

Starting out with(out) a bang

For years, CTV was home to the golden child – The Big Bang Theory, which spent most of the last decade at the top of the Canadian ratings heap. This year, The Big Bang is no more, but CTV has still managed to grab the top spot. The Good Doctor, now in its third season, kept up the strong ratings it has had for the last two seasons. Cosentino noted that it’s also up over last year’s premiere week, showing that the show is likely only getting stronger.

One series that was generally in the top-three or even top two last year had slipped considerably on the premiere week charts. Young Sheldon, the prequel series to The Big Bang Theory, grabbed just shy of 1.5 million viewers, after frequently grabbing up to one million more average viewers last year. The comedy does have several things working against it: not only has it lost its lead-in with Big Bang, but it’s also moved to a different time slot, into the earlier 7:30 position.

That move is temporary, says Cosentino, who tells MiC that he’s still encouraged by Young Sheldon’s numbers. “It’s still the number-one comedy, despite not having the Big Bang lead-in,” he says. He also expects Young Sheldon to grow significantly when one small factor changes. Currently, in the 7:30 timeslot, it’s not in simulcast with it’s U.S. network, CBS. With 8:00 p.m. as its “natural home,” Cosentino says those watching it at 8:00 p.m. on the CBS broadcast add about 30% to its numbers. “You combine those two numbers and Young Sheldon is a very strong show. Our challenge now is to get it into simulcast.”

That will come in late November when long-running hit Grey’s Anatomy takes a hiatus.

Also out of simulcast currently is another comedy, The Conners, which still managed to pull in an average of 1.31 million. Cosentino is pleased that the network boasts two very strong comedies in an era that seems to be more focused on drama. “I think dramas have an edge right now, and it’s a favourite for Canadians, which is why we’ve been leaning more into dramas recently. But I think there’s still room for big comedies.”

Other schedule changes included moving The Rookie to Sunday nights, which drew a strong audience of 1.62 million. Magnum P.I. was moved to Fridays, with its AMA (1.33 million for premiere night) bringing overall improvements to CTV’s Friday nights, according to Cosentino.

New kids on the block

CTV has always had much more than just The Big Bang Theory in terms of big ratings grabs. Legacy shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, This is Us and Law and Order: SVU all pulled in between 1.23 and 1.91 million each. But Cosentino thinks among the new batch of shows, there’s potential to grow over the years as well, rather than be flashes in the pan.

“Stumptown, for us, has emerged as the show we knew it could be,” he says, noting that much of Bell Media’s fall ad spend went into promoting the show. “Although that’s kind of a chicken-and-egg thing,” he pondered, noting that the creative of Stumptown is strong and compelling regardless of the advertising efforts. With just under 1.8 million average viewers, Cosentino also noted that it had strong PVR and great digital performance. But more importantly, he says, “It held its audience in week two and even grew in some small cases.”

The feel of the show is young, cool and female-driven, says Cosentino, which adds an edginess. But also pulling in younger audiences is reality hit The Masked Singer. After a season in the U.S., CTV was the first network to bring it to Canada. “I can’t say enough about that show,” Cosentino says, echoing what critics and audiences across the world have said about the bizarre but beloved new format. Nabbing 1.78 million viewers, “it showed, in an almost unprecidented way, growth every half-hour in its two-hour premiere.” It’s also CTV’s youngest show, with an average viewer age of 41 years.

It also drew significant social engagements: the show was CTV’s top show on social for reach, impressions and engagement and, according to Bell Media, trended in Canada during the premiere. Overall, throughout premiere week, CTV saw 29.3 million social impressions, a social reach of 9.4 million, 3.4 million engagements and 335,000 mentions.

Cosentino did note that there will be some “battle grounds” on the schedule – courtroom drama All Rise is paired against Global’s Prodigal Son Mondays at 9, and the latter drew the highest AMA of all new shows. “They really are separate audiences, and I think we’ll see that over time,” he says.