Wednesday, December 17, 2008

CTV Finds Excuse to Axe Idol: the Economy

I'm not all that surprised by CTV's decision to axe Canadian Idol, um, I mean "give it a rest" for a year. CTV has developed a habit of broadcasting excellent shows that it then axes as the ratings get good. No other broadcaster that I know of consistently cancels good shows.  They've already started axing good Canadian shows on their bought assets from CHUM. Remember the New Music? And there is no way in hell that Marilyn Dennis would have had such a long-running stint on CityLine if it had been a CTV show. Popularity doesn't count with them unless it's American. Now that Marilyn is developing a show with CTV, even if it doesn't use the economy as a reason to cancel her show-in-production, they're sure to axe it after, say, 5 years, tops. More like three. They have serious ADD over there. They're probably hoping Idol viewers do too, so the show can sink into quiet oblivion after that year of "rest."

Now, according to The Toronto Star, ratings for Canadian Idol have dropped from about 2 million to between 1 and 1.5 million views. That still makes it the second-highest rated show on Canadian television. That ought to  pull in the bucks to cover the costs of producing Idol -- if advertisers are going to spend their dollars, it's going to be on the shows that guarantee them the most eyeballs and no longer on those with low ratings. The Depression is when the people needed escapism the most. Hollywood understood that and still produced movies. Somebody funded those! American Idol understands that too -- it's reducing costs sans cancelling the show. So I really don't buy the economy argument. I'll be quite surprised if they bring it back for the 2010 season and simply coast on the tails of American Idol advertising revenue and cheap cost (for them).

It seems to me that no matter how crappy the economy is, a network simply doesn't switch the antenna off and stop broadcasting shows. They're not going to return to the days of when they switched off at midnight with the playing of the national anthem. They still have to fill those slots. They still -- one assumes, but maybe that's tenuous given the dearth of Canadian shows on CTV -- have to fill CRTC CanCon requirements. So that begs the question: what are they going to replace Idol with? Will they beguile the CRTC into agreeing to fill those hours with some cheap American reality show? Or some dumb-ass American drama?

The Idol owners ought to yank CTV's Idol license and give it to a
Canadian broadcaster that doesn't mind producing shows way up there in
the ratings stratosphere, along with the rights to simulcast American Idol. Somebody needs to teach CTV a lesson.

No comments: