Canadian TV weathers Hollywood strike
By Etan Vlessing
TORONTO (Hollywood Reporter) - Canadian broadcasters are scoring with homegrown fare and U.S. cable series as the Hollywood writers strike sends popular U.S. shows into reruns.
The standoff, now in its third month with no end in sight, has enabled the Movie Central premium pay TV service to lure subscribers with the promise of fresh U.S. cable series, said John Cassaday, CEO of the channel's Corus Entertainment parent.
"We have a number of new (episodes) that were previously prepared that will be coming on stream in the second and third quarter," Cassaday told analysts during a conference call Thursday.
"It does provide an opportunity for those people that are perhaps somewhat frustrated with the lack of new drama content on the networks to move over to Movie Central," he added.
The pay TV service is running episodes of HBO's "The Wire" and "In Treatment" day-and-date with their U.S. release, to be followed in the spring with the season premiers of "Entourage" and "Big Love."
The rival Canadian Broadcasting Corp. is getting traction for its new homegrown series during the strike. The sitcom "Sophie" debuted Wednesday with 630,000 total viewers, according to BBM Nielsen Media Research numbers.
Also Wednesday, the midseason launch of "Little Mosque on the Prairie" drew 804,000 viewers, up from the 750,000 haul for the second-season debut of the popular sitcom about quirky Muslims living in rural Saskatchewan.
The CBC had less success with another new midseason comedy, "jPod," which bowed Tuesday with 472,000 viewers, according to BBM Nielsen Media Research. Continued...