Fall TV ’20: CBC showcases returning series, promotes flexibility for buyers

Despite production delays and some uncertainty, execs say the schedule is "fairly firm" and but it can adapt to a 'just in time' buying model.
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CBC’s 2020 Virtual Upfront saw the public broadcaster program 3,600 new hours of TV for its 2020/21 slate as it outlined which series would return, which new series would come to airwaves and what’s on hold.

Executives also used the event to assuage apprehensions held by advertisers as they face the difficult decision of whether or not to lock in for another season of TV advertising.

Donald Lizotte, CRO of CBC Media Solutions, told viewers of the Upfront that CBC is adapting to buyers’ needs. “We know you need flexibility in your planning,” he said. “Many of you have moved to a ‘just-in-time’ buying model.’”

EVP Barb Williams says for those ready to move into fall buying right away, the schedule is “fairly firm,” but for those who need more time locking in on the execution front, Lizotte said CBC’s ad formats can cater to marketers’ current situation because creative can be swapped out quickly with no extra cost.

Among the new factual series joining the CBC’s roster is Orangeville Prep (6 x 30 minutes, fall 2020) and Arctic Vets (10 x 30 minutes, winter 2021).

Orangeville Prep is described as a character-driven factual series offering an inside look at the high-pressure world of The Athlete Institute (AI) in Orangeville, ON, basketball’s most successful preparatory program. Meanwhile, Arctic Vets tracks the veterinarian team at Manitoba’s Assiniboine Park Arctic Animal Hospital as they work tirelessly to care for sick and injured Arctic species.

The pubcaster also set previously announced series such as Trickster (6 x 60 minutes), Canada/New Zealand copro The Sounds (8 x 60 minutes, Shaftesbury/South Pacific Pictures) and blue-chip docuseries Enslaved (6 x 60 minutes) led by Samuel L. Jackson for its fall 2020 schedule. All three titles were revealed during the CBC’s 2019/20 Upfront.

Lady Dicks (10 x 60 minutes) – which was unveiled this February – is slated to debut as part of the broadcaster’s winter schedule. The buddy cop drama sees Baroness von Sketch Show‘s Meredith MacNeill and Orange is the New Black‘s Adrienne C. Moore star as two radically different female detectives in their 40s who grapple with loneliness, dysfunctional families, messed up love lives and the sense that their professional goals may not be in line with their personal needs.

Battle of the Blades and format adaptation Family Feud Canada (Zone 3/Fremantle) hosted by Gerry Dee are also set to return. According to a press release, the re-emergence of Battle of the Blades saw the competition show reach over 1.5 million Canadians each episode last year, while the inaugural season of Family Feud Canada reached 2.6 million viewers each week. Family Feud Canada will return for four nights per week this fall with 104 new episodes. A nationwide virtual search for new families is now underway.

Other Canadian series confirmed to return include:

  • TallBoyz (season two, winter);

  • You Can’t Ask That (season two, fall);

  • Coroner (season three, winter);

  • Frankie Drake Mysteries (season four, winter);

  • The Great Canadian Baking Show (season four, winter);

  • Workin’ Moms (season five, winter);

  • Kim’s Convenience (season five, winter);

  • Baroness von Sketch Show (fifth and final season, fall);

  • Still Standing (season six, fall);

  • Road to the Olympic Games (season six, fall);

  • Murdoch Mysteries (season 14, winter);

  • Heartland (season 14, winter);

  • Dragons’ Den (season 15, fall);

  • Halifax Comedy Fest (season 24, fall to winter);

  • This Hour Has 22 Minutes (season 28, fall);

  • Marketplace (season 48, fall);

  • The Fifth Estate (season 46, winter);

  • The Nature of Things (season 60, fall to winter).

A CBC spokesperson confirmed to MiC sister publication Playback Daily that Fridge Wars and dramas Diggstown and Burden of Truth are on hold due to COVID-19 production delays, and that many CBC shows that would normally air in fall had to shift to its winter schedule. Fortunate Son, conceived as a limited series with the potential to continue, will not be returning. The Detectives and High Arctic Haulers have also not been renewed.

New original series headed to CBC Kids and CBC Gem for this upcoming year include two animated preschool series: Remy & Boo (52 x 11 minutes, fall 2020) and Dino Ranch (52 x 11 minutes, 2021). Capping off the list is Gary’s Magic Fort (13 x 11 minutes, spring 2021), which sees CBC Kids’ host Gary the Unicorn play with his friends in an enchanted pillow fort.

Notably, Pure – which CBC opted not to renew and was subsequently greenlit for a second season by Super Channel – will return to CBC’s fall schedule. Also joining the lineup is U.K./France drama War of the Worlds (fall 2020).

This story originally appears in Playback.