By the time the show got underway May 30th at 4pm at the beautiful Elgin theatre, most of the crowd had already heard that LLCoolJ was going to be in the house, along with Ricki Lake – both of which were true.
Pre-show we were entertained by Tweet Bubbles on screen – all the enthusiastic comments and some self-serving shoutouts from agencies in attendance – much like the running Twitter stream they ran last year on the lobby wall of The Sony Centre. Couldn’t help but think back to the Rogers Television launch just 24 hours before who didn’t even mention the word Twitter.
And then Mr. Paul Robertson, President of Shaw Media took to the stage to literally bang the drum (a timpani set) and get the crowd jazzed. Let me declare right here that I spent a couple of New Years’ Eves with Mr. Robertson back in the mid-90’s – not like that; with his wife and a handful of other couples at the home of my then-brother-in-law, Jim Reid, then of Highway Entertainment and now of Skibo. Those New Years’ Eves were among my favourites – punctuated by a fact I learned much later: The nice single gentleman I met had a Hollywood name: Ted Killer.
So when I say Paul must be an awesome President, it comes from those parties. In his second consecutive year of hosting as Prezzy of Shaw Media, he did not disappoint, bringing a great balance of flair and facts. He managed a smooth tete-a-tete with the man himself LLCoolJ who he brought to the stage basically right off the top.
LL thanked ‘each and every one of us’ for our love of NCIS: Los Angeles, and that even though they shoot the show in L.A., they remember their fans in Canada. It’s anchored again at 9pm on Tuesdays for September. Ricki Lake would later refer back to many moments with LL – in her role as host of the UPfronts - like “LLCoolJ was my free pass when I was married to my first husband.”
Both Ricki Lake today and Katie Couric at Rogers Television yesterday referred to filling the gap that Oprah left. The new daytime talk show from Ricki Lake already has a social media audience building – driven in large part by Ricki herself – a self-confessed “Twitter-aholic.” People can go to Facebook today, May 31st, and participate in a pre-production meeting about September’s show. Conversely, Katie Couric said nothing of social media around her show. My bet is the more interactive the better, Ricki will win this one.
Shaw Media made some big announcements today as well – two new Specialty Channels coming to Canada: Lifetime, a well-known and successful women’s network in the U.S. and H2: History Channel has a baby. In the digital network group, NatGeo is #1 and it too has had a baby already up and on the air: NatGeoWild. Slice is growing steadily – Real Housewives of Vancouver will be back – and a few of them were there today causing quite a foto frenzy in the audience – but the bigger boost to Slice will be the first ever Big Brother Canada. If volume of tweets today is any indication, this show is going to be huge.
Over on conventional, Global News head honcho Troy Reeb who has the voice of a newscaster, likely because he was one, announced 40 additional hours per week of News programming – with emphasis on Local, plus a 24hr/day All News station, unfortunately only in B.C. to start. I can’t help but contrast this commitment to Rogers Television who currently doesn’t even have the evening news on several of their CityTV stations. I may be more of a newshound than most, but no 6pm News takes something away from the station. Ungrounds it in a way that is reminiscint of a cable station – no real home base.
Happy to see Shaw taking Global in the completely opposite direction. With 1/3 of the country’s population as Baby Boomers, the news on television isn’t going anywhere.
From mobile response rates for some of my clients, the data shows the news is more conducive to response than the sexier, but fewer click thrus, of Prime time programming.
On the entertainment programming side, Barbara Williams, VP of Programming (formerly of the Craig family’s Toronto One ) who annoyingly gets better looking every year, made the point that 14.5 hours of a 21 hour weekly prime time schedule will run in simulcast. Which is, without a doubt the best way to go when running American shows, but does leave one feeling a little less Canadian somehow. No different than any other Canadian network, but where Shaw really shines is that thanks to the deep list of stations in their portfolio, they are backing more than 850 hours of Canadian programming. Barb showed 3 of them to the crowd today. Perhaps because of partnerships with other countries in program development, including CBS Studios in the U.S., or because Canadians are getting better at it – the 3 clips we saw were all first rate. Go Canada !
Shaw has way more stations than any other network, and as a result, collectively they do drive the highest market share based on minutes viewed. A rarely-used metric in audience measurement, but a good way to drive home the point that Shaw Media television inventory runs deep. As Paul Robertson acknowledged in his opening – it’s all about all the devices – but it all starts with the first screen: Television.