TV & Film News – STARZ channel and streaming service will launch in Canada

STARZ channel and streaming service will launch in Canada next month. Lionsgate-owned STARZ is the second most-watched pay TV service in the U.S., delivering premium content, including series like Vida, Counterpart and Sweetbitter, in addition to Lionsgate series like Nurse Jackie, and a growing roster of feature films. On Mar. 1, Bell Media pay TV network Encore will rebrand as STARZ across two linear channels and on-demand platforms. The following week, STARZ will be available direct to Canadians as an add-on to Crave for an additional $5.99/month. The addition of STARZ to Crave’s offerings comes as the streaming service announces that its current subscriber base has reached 2.3 million subscribers since its re-launch last November, which saw content from the former CraveTV, HBO Canada and The Movie Network, rolled into one service.

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TVA Group has closed its acquisition of Serdy Media and its specialty channels Évasion and Zeste. They join TVA Group’s existing line-up of specialty channels including LCN, TVA Sports, AddikTV, CASA, MOI ET CIE, Prise 2 and Yoopa. Évasion went on the air in 2000 with a schedule of travel, tourism, adventure and food discovery programs.

Women in Film and Television Vancouver(WIFTV) has selected 21 up and coming Vancouver actors to participate in the 2019 WIFTV Actor Career Mentorship Program. Launched by Vancouver actor Krista Magnusson (Limitless, Lost Solace, Bloody Knuckles) in 2013, the program aims to provide women actors with guidance and support as they work to advance their careers. Running from Jan. to July, mentees will work on their individual goals, including relationship building, developing their own projects, branding, and work/life balance as the pairs meet for one hour, once a month, for six months. Applications for the 2020 edition of the WIFTV Actor Career Mentorship Program will open in Oct. 2019.

Crave is debuting a series of all-new comedy specials from Mark Forward, D.J. Demers, and Robby Hoffman. Produced in partnership with Just For Laughs and Counterfeit Pictures, the three specials join the Crave Originals Collection, beginning Friday, Feb. 22. Filmed at Toronto’s Longboat Hall in front of a live audience during 2018’s JFL42 Festival, the specials are part of Bell Media’s ongoing partnership with Just For Laughs, which includes six seasons of JUST FOR LAUGHS: ALL ACCESS and the recent specials HOMEGROWN COMICS HOSTED BY K. TREVOR WILSONTREVOR NOAH @ JFL, and THE STAND-UP SHOW WITH KATHERINE RYAN.

DHX Media has signed an exclusive agreement withNickelodeon that will see Dorg Van Dango, air on its international channels, including the UK, Australia, Scandinavia, France, Italy, Spain, Central Eastern Europe, Poland, Israel, Latin America, Asia (excluding China), India, the Middle East and North Africa. Family Channel will air the Canada-Ireland co-production from DHX Media and Cartoon Saloon, in Canada. A brand new animated comedy for six to 11-year-olds, Dorg Van Dango (52 x 11′) follows the adventures of Dorg, a normal kid, living in the very normal town of Normill, until he meets “The Magicals” – a group of escapees from Area 51 that include an alien, ghost, ancient witch and unicorn – in need of refuge. Production on the series is underway at DHX Media’s Vancouver studio. Dorg Van Dango is expected to roll out internationally in 2020.

DHXDHX Media has reported Fiscal 2019 second quarter and first six-month results for the periods ended Dec. 31, 2018. Q2 2019 revenue was $117 million compared with $121.9 million year-over-year. In H1 2019, revenue was largely flat at $221.1 million vs the first-half of Fiscal 2018. In the quarter, distribution (excluding WildBrain) was $13.7 million vs $16.6 million in Q2 2018, down $2.9 million. WildBrain views increased 29 per cent to 7 billion in Q2 2019. Revenue grew 13 per cent to $19.9 million, WildBrain’s strongest quarter to date. However, the rate of revenue growth slowed in the quarter, impacted by management transitions and a shift of kids’ viewing from the main YouTube platform to the new YouTube Kids dedicated app. CEO Michael Donovan says strategic shift and disciplined cost management allowed the company to pay down $9.5 million in debt in the quarter.

Blue Ant Media has entered into an agreement with BBC Studios to be the first to license series format rights for the international hit Life Below Zero. BBC Studios production arm in Los Angeles first launched the series in 2013, which recently celebrated its 100th episode on the National Geographic Channel. Blue Ant Media’s newly-acquired Saloon Media will start production this month on Life Below Zero: Canada (8×60). The new observational docuseries is being shot on location with a focus on Canadian people and stories and is set to air on the Cottage Life channel in 2020. A special 30-minute, sneak peek documentary episode will premiere on the channel this April.

Catherine Tait

CBC/Radio-Canada President and CEO Catherine Tait told the annual international Kidscreen Summit that the public broadcaster’s goal is to double the amount of content for young audiences on the CBC Gem streaming service over the next year to match that already available on ICI TOU.TV. With a focus on live-action scripted series for the 6-12 and tween demographics, new original programming includes tween action-adventure series Detention Adventure (10×11, LoCo Motion Pictures and Broken Compass Films). CBC’s first original kids scripted series for CBC Gem, it will premiere this spring. CBC has also greenlit Let’s Talk About Sex (35×5, Echo Media), the English-language version of On parle de sexe, which will provide tweens with age-appropriate information on healthy sexuality. It will premiere as the first original factual series for kids on CBC Gem in 2020.

Rogers says the 19th annual Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada broadcast reached a total 9.6 million Canadians on Sportsnet, Sportsnet ONE, Sportsnet 360, Citytv and CBC – a five per cent increase from the 2018 marathon broadcast. According to Numeris data, the Toronto Maple Leafs @ Montreal Canadiens game was the most-watched program in Canada on Saturday with an average minute audience of 2 million viewers. Saturday’s broadcast marked the fourth consecutive year of audience growth for Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada.

The 53rd Annual Variety Show of Hearts Telethon returned to Global BC on Sunday, Feb. 10, raising $5,512,778 over the live broadcast from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The eight-hour broadcast, from Hard Rock Casino Vancouver’s Molson Canadian Theatre, was highlighted by a special appearance from Star Trek alum George Takei, in addition to members of the Global BC team.

The CAFTCAD Awards took place Sunday, Feb. 10 in Toronto, honouring costumers in Canadian film and television. The inaugural event saw awards handed out in over 50 categories with the teams behind Oscar-winning feature film Shape of Water, and series Killjoys, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Murdoch Mysteries,taking home honours in multiple categories. Find the full list of winners here.

The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television has revealed this year’s Canadian Screen Award nominees in 135 film, television, and digital content categories. The Canadian Academy has also announced its 2019 special award recipients. They include The Kids in the Hall (Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney, Scott Thompson) who will receive the Academy Icon Award; director Deepa Mehta, who will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award; and actress Mary Walsh who’ll receive the Earle Grey Award. Homecoming actor Stephan James will receive the inaugural Radius Award, which honours a Canadian making waves globally. Best News and Information Series nominees include W5, CBC News: Marketplace, ATPN Investigates, and The Fifth Estate. Global National, CBC News: The National, and CTV National News with Lisa LaFlamme are in competition for Best National Newscast, while in the Best Local Newscast category, City News Toronto, CBC Toronto News at Six, CTV Vancouver News at 6, and CTV News Toronto at 6 are nominated.

Find the nominees for other selected media categories, including Best Local Reporter and Best Host, here >