Bell Media announced Dec. 23 that potential Conservative leadership candidate Kevin O’Leary will no longer appear as a contributor on CTV News or BNN. Bell hired the businessman, commentator, Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den star away from the CBC two years ago. Bell’s announcement came following the launch of a leadership bid exploratory committee and website. Bell says O’Leary could continue to appear as a guest, but not in an official capacity.
After halting research and development on its own in-house IPTV streaming service, Rogers Communications has announced plans to launch a new service developed by U.S.-based Comcast in early 2018. As a result of the change, Rogers is taking a $500M write down in the fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31. The company says using Comcast’s technology will ensure customers have access to the most advanced features on the market, while staying competitive at a reasonable cost.
CBC has renewed its original comedy series Kim’s Convenience for a second season. The first season drew an average audience of 933,000 viewers per episode. Produced by Thunderbird Entertainment in association with Soulpepper, the series will return in fall 2017.
The Comedy Network has greenlit an animated version of Corner Gas. The 13-episode, half-hour series slated for the 2017-2018 broadcast season is being re-imagined by creator and star Brent Butt, who will executive produce with David Storey from Prairie Pantoons (335 Productions) and Virginia Thompson from Moving Mountoons (Vérité Films). The series begins pre-production this month in Vancouver and Toronto, with the main cast confirmed to return. Casting is currently underway for the character Emma, who will live on in the animated world with the blessing of the late Janet Wright’s family.
Toronto native Howie Mandel will host the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards. The show, honouring the best in Canadian film and television, airs live on CBC TV on March 12.
Bell Media has launched a new appeal of the CRTC’s Super Bowl ad policy, outlawing simultaneous substitution of Canadian ads. Bell and the National Football League filed with the Federal Court of Appeal Dec. 28. Simultaneous substitution generates about $250-million in annual revenue for Canadian broadcasters with the CRTC’s 2015 ruling aimed at tackling viewer complaints about substitution errors during live programming and viewers missing big-budget U.S. Super Bowl ads.
TVO is celebrating Ontario’s and Canada’s 150th anniversary with educational content. TVO’s multiplatform celebration includes stories and themes related to the immigrant experience, aboriginal roots, contemporary Canadian identity, and Ontario’s contribution to Confederation and the world. Throughout 2017, sesquicentennial content will be marked with a special TVO-designed tribute logo for Canada/Ontario150.
Montreal’s Stingray Digital Group Inc. is acquiring premium Pay TV channel Classica from Unitel. Unitel will continue to produce and deliver programming for Classica, while Stingray will have full access to its vast catalogue of more than 1,500 titles and 2,000 hours of Unitel-owned and produced content. Launched in 1996, Classica presents operas, ballets, and concerts from the most renowned opera houses, concert halls and music festivals. The channel is currently distributed in 40 countries, available to an estimated 20 million subscribers.
TV cord cutting in Canada continued to escalate in 2016. While Canada’s top telecommunications providers – BCE Inc., Rogers Communications Inc., Telus Corp., Shaw Communications Inc. and Quebecor Inc. – gained 626,000 wireless subscribers and 212,000 Internet subscribers in the first three quarters of the year, they lost 157,000 television subscribers over the same period. Landline subscriptions were down 471,000. Analysts anticipate the year-end cord cutting tally could reach 200,000 subscribers, compared to a loss of 173,000 in 2015.