August 26, 2014

TV/Streaming News | Shaw and Rogers reveal Shomi VOD platform

Shomi, a Rogers Communications/Shaw Communications joint venture, was formally announced by the two companies in an August 26, 2014 media release. The subscription video-on-demand service is currently in beta launch for Rogers and Shaw Internet/television customers on tablet, mobile, and online platforms, as well as Xbox 360 and set top boxes. It is Rogers’ and Shaw’s first major attempt to compete with Netflix, and costs $8.99 CDN a month; it is currently not available as a standalone product. Shomi is available starting November 2014.

The service initially offers 340 television series, 11,000 hours of television content, and 1200 films at launch, for a total of 14,000 “episodes and titles” (Shomi’s terminology). No original content is initially planned for the service, as Shomi currently focuses on library content and “first-window exclusives” of shows Shaw Media and Rogers Media currently control digital distribution rights to. Shomi is officially in beta for six months to a year.

Shomi uses the You.i engine from You.i Labs. You.i Labs was founded in 2008, and is based in Ottawa, Ontario.

Bell Canada Enterprises and Cineplex Odeon Corporation are not on board with the Shomi venture, as was originally planned. According to Greg O’Brien of, Bell plans its own subscription video-on-demand service for January 2015 due to it not liking the content rights terms Rogers signed for Shomi; Cineplex left the Shomi venture due to the service only being available as an add-on for existing Internet/television customers.

Rogers Media president Keith Pelley mentioned at the Shomi media event that “quite a few titles” might come from CBC; CBC is not officially onboard with Shomi.

The Shomi joint venture launches as a standalone entity, with its own management structure.


August 25, 2014

TV News | Fall 2014 premiere dates for CBC’s Canadian series

From an August 25, 2014 media release. All times are in PT/MT/CT/ET/AT, half an hour later NT.

Ascension: November 25, 9:00 PM (debut)
Canada’s Smartest Person: September 28, 8:00 PM (second season; first season aired winter 2012)
Doc Zone: October 9, 9:00 PM
Dragons’ Den: October 15, 8:00 PM (ninth season)
Heartland: September 28, 7:00 PM (eighth season)
Hockey Night in Canada: October 11, game 7:00 ET to conclusion (sixty-first television season)
Marketplace: October 17, 8:00 PM (forty-second season)
Murdoch Mysteries: October 6, 8:00 PM (eighth season)
Republic of Doyle: October 15, 9:00 PM (sixth and final season)
Steven and Chris: September 22, 2:00 PM (eighth season)
Strange Empire: October 6, 9:00 PM (debut)
the fifth estate: October 24, 9:00 PM (fortieth season)
The Nature of Things: October 9, 8:00 PM (fifty-fourth season)
The Rick Mercer Report: October 7, 8:00 PM (twelfth season)
This Hour Has 22 Minutes: October 7, 8:30 PM (twenty-second season)

Although Hockey Night in Canada is back for its sixty-first season on CBC, Rogers Media currently controls the property. HNiC is not mentioned in CBC’s official press release, nor on its fall schedule promotional website.


TV News | Lost Girl ends run after 77 episodes

Lost Girl, the Prodigy Pictures series starring Anna Silk as a succubus who tries to forge her own path in a mortal’s world, announced its conclusion in an August 25, 2014 Shaw Media press release, as well as a video from the official Showcase YouTube account (see below). Lost Girl winds down with a sixteen-episode split season. The show debuted on Showcase September 12, 2010. In the United States of America, Lost Girl debuted January 16, 2012, on Syfy.

The first eight episodes of Lost Girl’s fifth season air on Showcase starting December 7, 2014, at 9:00 PM ET/PT. According to The Hollywood Reporter’s Etan Vlessing, the second half of the fifth season will air in fall 2015, although there is no indication that the fall 2015 run counts as a “sixth” season. Vlessing also confirms that Lost Girl will wrap internationally.

August 2014 is a painful month for Canadian television. Lost Girl’s announced conclusion marks the fourth end for a high-profile scripted Canadian series after The Listener, Working the Engels, and Seed. With Continuum’s future still undecided by Shaw Media – to the extent that Continuum show creator Simon Barry publicly wonders when a decision will be announced – there might be more cancellations in Canadian scripted television before the month bows out.


Article | Thoughts on Adam Hines’ Canadaland appearance

Some thoughts on the Canadaland podcast with Adam Hines. Hines is one half of the now-defunct Guys With Pencils podcast, which he records with Andrew Murray. I realize this article is two weeks late, yet it’s still not as late as Teletoon’s 2014-15 fall schedule announcement. Just sayin’.

In the intro to this Canadaland episode, Jesse Brown mentions John Kricfalusi, Norman McLaren, and NFB shorts. Brown ignores Danny Antonucci, whose Cartoon Network show Ed, Edd n Eddy was spearheaded by Antonucci’s a.k.a. Cartoon in Vancouver, and commissioned by Cartoon Network. Granted, Brown admits he doesn’t know much about how the commercial animation business works, but it’s odd to ignore the rare Canadian-made television show commissioned by an American channel – the normal procedure for American television is to acquire a Canadian show through the production company (see: DHX Media’s Supernoobs). Ed, Edd n Eddy managed sixty-nine episodes and the Ed, Edd n Eddy’s Big Picture Show television film. Ed, Edd n Eddy is also the last major North American animated television series to switch from cel animation to digital ink-and-paint.

Ed, Edd n Eddy was the last of what Cartoon Network terms the Cartoon Cartoons when it ended in 2009. Unfortunately, as Ed, Edd n Eddy was commissioned by an American channel, the show isn’t considered Canadian by the Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office. It’s a strange quirk of the Canadian television business. Had the show gone through the usual Canadian channels (YTV, Family Channel, Teletoon), the show would have triggered fund money, but it’s hard to say whether Ed, Edd n Eddy would have earned the creative control Cartoon Network gave it. Hell, it was a risk to give Antonucci a children’s show after a.k.a. Cartoon made The Brothers Grunt for MTV in 1994; those who have seen The Brothers Grunt know what I’m talking about.

When people mention “shitty Flash cartoons,” they refer to vector-based animation that is reliant on computer-based inbetweening, which Hines explains to Brown. Canadian broadcasters greenlight a lot of these type cartoons – Total Drama, Numb Chucks, Rocket Monkeys, etc. A reason these shows exist is to increase the available amount of content in a company’s catalog. Corus and DHX Media own cable properties (Corus with Teletoon, Treehouse and YTV; DHX Media with Family Channel), which gives them an edge over independent Canadian animation companies. Corus also owns animation studio Nelvana and animation software company Toon Boom, while DHX Media owns what used to be Studio B Productions.

If there’s a current need to knock out five times the amount of content compared to Warner Bros. Animation/Warner Animation Group (a company Hines mentions in the podcast), it’s because Time Warner owns the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies and MGM cartoon libraries, the Hanna-Barbera and select Ruby-Spears assets, Cartoon Network, and the library of animated series/films based on DC Entertainment properties. The legwork for what is currently Time Warner began in 1967, when Kinney National Services bought National Periodical Publications (i.e., DC Comics); Warner Bros./Seven Arts joined the conglomerate in 1969. Even then, Kinney’s objective was to diversify beyond parking lots, funeral homes, cleaning firms, and wood flooring. Amassing a content library was nowhere near as important as it is now.

Nelvana’s animation catalog only dates back to the early 1970s. DHX Media has a large animation catalog due to the company being a series of mergers and acquisitions; 9 Story Entertainment is in the process of building its own sizable catalog. It doesn’t matter about a show’s quality so much as if the reruns can still sell. Canadian television animation is a producer’s market; Corus and DHX Media are shrewd enough to have vertically integrated models, while everyone else is in the business to survive.

The question of “why doesn’t Canada have its own Adventure Time?” is a cheat. Adventure Time began as a short on Nicktoons Network; two pitches by show producer Frederator Studios to turn Adventure Time into a Nicktoons series were rejected. It took a commitment by Cartoon Network, and a major retool on Pendleton Ward’s part, for the show to become what it currently is. It’s hard for America to build its own Adventure Time, never mind Canada. That’s not to say Canadian companies can’t make their own Adventure Time. Bite on Mondo is a start. Blue Ant Media wants to build Bite into a legitimate competitor to Bell Media’s Comedy Network, while affiliating itself with an American company it might want to acquire a few years down the road. In today’s corporate culture, BoM is as shrewd a business decision as any.

A weird thing about this episode of Canadaland is that it doesn’t mention Guys With Pencils’ recent decision to shut down its podcast. I’m not sure if the interviews are banked beforehand, and if they are, for how long. I just find it an odd thing to omit. To be fair, I’m surprised Canadaland even talks about Canadian animation, or else this article wouldn’t exist.

Also, The Raccoons is not the apex of anything.


August 21, 2014

TV News | Seed cancelled by Rogers Media

Rogers Media City/specialties publicist Stephanie Perron confirms to Gloryosky on August 21, 2014 that Seed, the Joseph Raso-helmed sitcom which debuted February 4, 2013 on City, will not be renewed for a third season. The sitcom stars Adam Korson as a sperm donor trying to connect with his various offspring, and their attached families. The Rogers Media statement, in full:

“We are extremely proud of Seed and the two seasons that we were able to bring to our viewers. It was a privilege to work with the immense talent behind both the cast and creators involved in this quality Canadian production. It was a difficult decision, but, despite critical acclaim, the series was unable to connect with the audience it needed to continue. We thank Canadians for their support for Seed over the last two years and look forward to bringing them more original content in the future.”

Seed debuted on The CW July 14, 2014, and was cancelled after two low-rated episodes. As Mr. D will air on City on a second-window basis, and with the announcements of Young Drunk Punk and Sunnyside, there is no more room for Seed.

Seed joins Mother Up! as shows on City’s 2013-14 schedule that will not return for new seasons.


August 20, 2014

TV News | Working the Engels cancelled by NBC and Shaw Media

As first mentioned by The Hollywood Reporter’s Etan Vlessing, Shaw Media confirmed the cancellation of Global/NBC sitcom Working the Engels on August 20, 2014. As mentioned in an earlier Gloryosky article, American ratings were soft for the Andrea Martin/Kacey Rohl sitcom since its July 10, 2014 NBC debut. The show was co-developed by Shaw Media and NBCUniversal, and produced by Halfire Entertainment.

Working the Engels’ Nielsen viewership on NBC first dipped below two million on July 31, 2014; the viewing figures are consistent with Working the Engels’ Canadian performance on Global, as the show suffered through similarly weak ratings above the 49th parallel. NBC cancels Working the Engels after five episodes; the show was preempted August 14, 2014 by the eighth-season finale of Last Comic Standing.

As Working the Engels’ future hinged on its NBC performance after the weak Global run, this is about as cut-and-dried a cancellation as one gets in Canadian television. Regardless of Working the Engels’ perceived quality, relatively few viewers watched the show in the two countries where its performance most mattered. This doesn’t end Shaw Media and NBCUniversal’s co-development partnership – Variety’s Shelli Weinstein mentions Halfire Entertainment police procedural Rope, with Rookie Blue and Flashpoint executive producer Tassie Cameron attached to the project.

As a result of Working the Engels’ NBC cancellation, Welcome to Sweden airs two episodes on NBC August 21, 2014, assuming Working the Engels’ Thursday timeslot for the time being.


August 8, 2014

TV News/Media Releases | Canadian Television News Roundup (August 7-8, 2014)

CRTC approves a restructuring of Channel Zero’s operations, as well as a licence amendment to Rewind (formerly Movieola), and three-year licence renewals to Rewind, Silver Screen Classics, and CHCH. The main issues were CRTC-unauthorized changes in Channel Zero’s overall ownership, and the non-compliance of Channel Zero-owned channels towards Canadian content and program log submission.

Under the new ownership structure, 1490525 Ontario Inc. and 2190015 Ontario Inc. are wholly owned by 2308740 Ontario Inc. Moviola: Short Film Channel Inc. is 85% owned by 2308740, with the rest owned by minority shareholders. 2308740 is controlled by C.J. Millar (39.3%), Romen Podzyhun (39.3%), and Chris Fuoco (21.4%). Harold Balde and Anthony D’Andrea, part-owners of Moviola Short Film, are effectively written out of Channel Zero’s ownership structure. The value of Balde and D’Andrea’s effective transfer of ownership to Millar, Podzyhun, and Fuoco is $1,210,607, of which $121,060 is payable in tangible benefits over a three-year period.

The Movieola channel rebranded to Rewind in December 2012, without first amending its CRTC licence – specifically, it was a short film station, acting like it was now MovieTime. Under the new licence, Rewind can devote up to ten percent of its schedule to independent short films. The other ninety percent of its programming must be at least ten years old (i.e., if Rewind wants to air a film made in 2005, it has to wait until 2015), and is considered “action and adventure programming”.

As for AOV Adult Movie Channel, AOV Maleflixxx, and AOV XXX Action Clips, they are channels with less than 200,000 subscribers, and can be made exempt from CRTC’s licensing process due to a 2012 exemption order. The porn channels must still follow guidelines regarding Canadian content, closed captioning, and advertising. Presumably, the porn channels are still subject to 2308740 Ontario Inc.’s ownership structure; the porn channels’ licences expire August 31, 2014.

Of note, this is the first renewal for Channel Zero’s specialty licences since 2000. The licences were set to expire in 2007, and were kept active until 2014 through a number of administrative renewals. (August 8, 2014)

Although there isn’t currently a press release, at least part of Christian-based religious/family broadcaster Crossroads Television System (CTS) is currently sold to advertisers as yesTV. CTS’/yesTV’s current strategy is to pick up shows dropped by other program services and channelsAmerican Idol (from CTV), Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! (from CHCH), America’s Funniest Home Videos and The Biggest Loser (from OMNI), and Judge Judy (from City). Other acquisitions include The X Factor UK, and Judge Judy spinoff Hot Bench.

There’s no indication of whether CTS rebrands wholesale to yesTV in fall 2014, or if this is a sub-brand for the secular shows in CTS’ lineup. A Google search for CTS’ Family Feud turns up this 2014 survey, asking questions about the nature of CTS’ programming. Presumably, yesTV is CTS’ attempt to be more competitive in the over-the-air markets it services (Hamilton/Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton). (August 8, 2014)

Pressure Cooker, a W Network series based on an original concept from Jamie Oliver’s Fresh One Productions, begins production August 15, 2014. Pressure Cooker is a cooking competition, based around how well contestants cook during time constraints, and with a limited number of food items. Walmart is the show’s lead broadcast/grocery sponsor, with ESKA Water as official water supplier.

Pressure Cooker debuts on W Network October 2014. The show’s producer is Bristow Global Media, in association with W Network. (August 7, 2014)

Highway Thru Hell, the Discovery series focusing on the daily operations of Jamie Davis Motor Truck’s heavy-vehicle rescue and recovery service, premieres its third season Tuesday, September 2, at 10:00 PM ET/PT. The third season of Highway Thru Hell sees Jamie Davis Motor Truck attempt to expand its business, servicing Highway 63 and 881 between Lac La Biche and Fort McMurray, Alberta (i.e., highways which service the Alberta oil sands industry). In addition, the company attempts to maintain its Hope, British Columbia-based Coquihalla operation, in the face of renewed competition and the worst snowfall/avalanche conditions in decades. (August 7, 2014)

A CTV News Northern Ontario piece on the filming of TVOntario drama Hard Rock Medical’s second season. Sean Grech reports. (August 8, 2014)

The Rogers Documentary and Cable Network Fund confirms equity investments to seventeen Canadian projects, totalling $5,264,406. (August 8, 2014)

Tackle My Reno debuts on HGTV Canada August 26, 2014 at 10:00 PM ET/PT, with back-to-back episodes. The show features ex-CFL player/current contractor Sebastian Clovis, as he helps homeowners struggling with do-it-yourself projects. (August 7, 2014)


August 7, 2014

TV News | Fall 2014 premiere dates for City’s Canadian series

From an August 7, 2014 media release:

Package Deal: September 12, 9:00 PM ET (second season)
The Bachelor Canada: September 18, 8:00 PM ET (second season; two-hour season premiere)
Canadian Concert for Human Rights: September 20, 8:00 PM ET (special)
Hockey Night in Canada: October 11, game 7:00 ET to conclusion (sixty-first television season; first on City as part of NHL deal)
Hometown Hockey: October 12, pregame 6:30 PM ET; game 7:00 ET to conclusion (first season as part of NHL deal)

Meet the Family’s second season is unconfirmed at this time. It was previously mentioned at the 2014 Rogers Media upfront as schedule filler.

Mother Up! is confirmed by Rogers Media City/specialties publicist Stephanie Perron as not returning to City.

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