Guy Brouillard, Gerry Forbes, and Brother Jake Edwards are the 2019 inductees of the Broadcast Industry Hall of Fame. They’ll be honoured during Canadian Music Week at the Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards Gala Dinner on Thursday, May 9 in Toronto. Guy Brouillard, was music director at CKOI-FM Montreal for over four decades, up until his retirement last August. Gerry Forbes retired last year after 25 years at CJAY 92 (CJAY-FM) Calgary and 43 years in radio. Forbes started his career behind the turntable in 1975 at CHNL Kamloops, moving on to CHAM Hamilton, and then Toronto stations CFTR, CHUM, and CKFM, before landing in Calgary at CHFM and then CJAY. Brother Jake Edwards, of TSN 1040 (CKST-FM) Vancouver, has spent over four decades on-air across Canada including Q104 (CFRQ-FM) Halifax, 92 CITI FM and 97 Kiss FM (CKIS-FM) Winnipeg, and Q107 (CILQ-FM) Toronto, before becoming the morning show ratings leader at Vancouver’s Rock 101 (CFMI-FM) for 17 years. “Bro Jake” joined the TSN 1040 morning show in 2013. He’s also known as the voice behind syndicated radio comedy character “The Champ.” Previously-announced honourees for the 2019 Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards include Robbie Robertson, the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award in the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame, and Michael McCarty and Steve Herman in the Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Hall of Fame.
Brad Karp, morning show host at Rogers’ Country 93.3 (CJOK-FM) Fort McMurray, is the 2019 recipient of the Allan Waters Young Broadcaster of the Year Award, in memory of Steve Young. Karp arrived in Fort McMurray in Dec. 2014, starting out as the afternoon news anchor and reporter for Country 93.3 & ROCK 97.9 (CKYX-FM), in addition to handling play-by-play for Fort McMurray Oil Barons (AJHL) games. He’s been host of the Country 93.3 morning show for the past two years. At age 28, Karp has already been named one of Fort McMurray’s Top 50 Under 50, and in 2018 was awarded the Western Association of Broadcasters’ ‘Leader Of Tomorrow’ distinction and was named the ‘Ted Rogers Award Winner’ for his work during the Fort McMurray wildfires. Karp was the first person called following the Humboldt Broncos tragedy when a voice was needed to call the Broncos/Grande Prairie Storm game in Peace River. He’ll be recognized at the Industry Award dinner during Canadian Music Week in Toronto on May 9 and will be presented with his award during the Programming 2020 Masterclass panel earlier in the day. This year’s runners up were Rachel Ettinger of Virgin Radio (CIQM-FM) London, and Lauren Hunter of SONiC 102.9 (CHDI-FM) Edmonton. Read more here.
Carmela Laurignano, vice-president and Radio Group Manager at Evanov Radio Group (ERG), is the winner of the 2019 Rosalie Award. Handed out by the Radio Trailblazers, the Rosalie Award recognizes a Canadian woman who has blazed new trails in radio. Laurignano began her career at CHIN Radio Toronto, serving as sales assistant, sales manager, and later VP of Sales, Marketing and Promotions, becoming the first woman to hold a VP position with a Canadian ethnic broadcaster. In 1993, she joined ERG as VP & Radio Group Manager where she’s helped grow the company and fostered opportunities to acquire and launch new stations. Laurignano is part owner of four ERG radio properties and serves on the company’s board of directors.
The Canadian Music Week (CMW) Broadcast Jury has released the list of nominees for this year’s Canadian Radio Music Awards. The winners of the CRMA’s are chosen by the combined votes of On-Air Staff, Program Directors and Music Directors with online voting now open. This year’s nominees for Music Director of the Year, Major Market include Amy “Race” Ballard, The New Hot 89.9 Ottawa; Matt Berry X92.9 Calgary; Brad Challoner, 103.5 QM-FM Vancouver; Lisa Grossi, CHUM FM Toronto; Julie James, 98.1 CHFI Toronto; Michael Religa, Indie 88 Toronto; Jeremy Slattery, Kiss 92.5 Toronto; Brandy Taylor, Sonic 102.9 Edmonton; Brittany Van Hemert, CFOX Vancouver; and Wayne Webster, Boom 97.3 Toronto. Broadcast Dialogue is also up for an award with our editor Connie Thiessen nominated for Music Journalist of the Year. The awards will be handed out May 9 at Rebel nightclub in Toronto.
South Asian Broadcasting has rebranded CIRV-FM Toronto to 88.9 RED FM, in line with Kulwinder Sanghera’s other RED-branded multicultural stations CKYE-FM Vancouver and CKYR-FM Calgary. Monday’s launch was attended by many dignitaries, including Etobicoke North MP Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport. South Asian Broadcasting acquired the station in late 2016.
Edison Research has released The Podcast Consumer 2019, the latest deep dive into the audience for podcasting in the U.S. The study combines new research from Edison and Triton Digital’s The Infinite Dial 2019, and previously unreleased data from Edison’s Share of Ear research, a syndicated study tracking all forms of online and offline listening. The study shows monthly podcast listening, 12+, has grown from 26% in 2018 to 32%, equivalent to 98 million Americans. Of those listeners, 36% are men and 29% women. Growth was seen across all demos, notably among those ages 12 to 24, which went from 30 to 40%. Edison Research SVP Tom Webster cautions however that growth is still lagging with those 55+ and getting whiter. Amongst monthly podcast consumers, 66% are white. African-American listeners make up 11% of listeners, followed by Hispanics at 9%. Read the full story here.
SiriusXM has made the first move towards capitalizing on its $3.5 billion acquisition of Pandora, America’s largest music streaming service. SiriusXM is launching 22 new podcasts on Pandora, repurposing many of its most popular shows like Andy Cohen’s Deep & Shallow Interviews, Jenny McCarthy’s Celebrity Dirt, The Hoda Show, Ricky Gervais Is Deadly Sirius, and Straight from The Hart with Kevin Hart.
Rafale FM (CJRM-FM) Labrador City, NL has reportedly continued to accept advertising dollars, despite being off the year for sometime. Target Broadcast Sales says it sold advertising for the French-language station up until the end of March when it learned it had gone silent. The federal and provincial governments invested more than $600,000 to start the provincial francophone radio network, starting in 2009, however sources tell CBC no local programming has been produced since 2015. Montreal communications firm Cossette says it’s purchased at least $10,000 in ads on the station since 2015, while the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency spent $3,363.75 in advertising from 2016-18. The station claims technical problems led to it come off air last July.
Erin Davis has released the audio book version of her Top 10 bestseller Mourning Has Broken: Love, Loss & Reclaiming Joy. The longtime CHFI Toronto host wrote and narrated the book, which features a foreword by Jann Arden. In the book, Davis explores her grieving process following the sudden death of her daughter Lauren, 24, a former CFRA Ottawa news anchor. It also includes anecdotes from Davis’ broadcasting career.
Bob Hunter, the former general manager of CKBB Radio in Barrie, ON, has had a $50,000 donation made in his memory to create a music-themed art installation at Meridian Place on the Barrie waterfront. Hunter, a community staple also known for playing in the Bob Hunter Band and Barrie Concert Band, first joined the Barrie Broadcasting Company in 1952, before leaving in the late 1960s to become Canadian president of the Cooper Tool Group. Hunter passed away in 1999.
Bobby Gale, 62, on Apr. 12. Radio and music industry veteran Bobby Gale died Friday night following an accident on his way home from a concert in Montreal. Gale, who had called Prince Edward County, ON home for the last 15 years, had been the host of Sunday Glide on community radio station County FM (CJPE-FM) since 2015. Growing up in Windsor, Gale’s first foray into radio was at CJOM 88 Windsor in 1975. Gale quickly moved on to take on swing at 106 FM (WWWW-FM) in Detroit, where he worked alongside the legendary Howard Stern, Dan Carlisle and Jerry Lubin. Stints at CHIQ-FM Winnipeg, CHOM-FM Montreal and Q107 (CILQ-FM) Toronto followed. In 1980, Gale started a decade-long career as the PolyGram promotions and publicity rep for Ontario and Manitoba. He went on to start his own independent radio promotions company plug (MUSIC) Inc. in 1992, and later Global Live Artist Direction (GLAD), providing artist management, media relations and bookings. Read more here.
André Bureau, 83, on Apr. 12 after a battle with cancer. Born in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Bureau studied at Université Laval and was called to the Quebec Bar in 1959. He later obtained a doctorate in comparative law from the Sorbonne. He started out practicing law in his hometown where one of his clients was the daily newspaper, which was eventually acquired by Power Corporation. He joined Power’s Quebec daily La Presse in 1968 as executive vice-president of Human Resources. He returned to practicing law in 1973 at Bureau, Champagne, Parisien. Telemedia was one of the firm’s main clients and he was appointed EVP at Télémédia Communications in 1976. He became its president in 1980-81, president of Telemedia Ventures from 1981-82, and then president and CEO of Canadian Satellite Communications (Cancom) from 1982-83. He was appointed to a seven-year term as CRTC chairman in 1983, overseeing massive expansion in the Canadian cable, specialty channel and FM radio landscape during his tenure. He returned to law and Montreal firm Heenan Blaikie in 1989, before his mandate was up, and became president of Astral Broadcasting and subsequently chairman of Astral Media. He also served as chairman or sat on the boards of Microcell Telecommunications, AT&T Canada, TELETOON, Family Channel, Radiomédia, Viewer’s Choice Canada, Canal Indigo, MusiquePlus Inc., TV Max Plus Productions and Great Lakes Hydro Fund, and served as president of the Alliance française de Montréal. Bureau received the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from France in 1992; was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1993; inducted into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2004; and appointed an Officer of the National Order of Quebec in 2012.
Terry Hargreaves, 82, on Apr. 5 in Victoria, BC. Born in Glastonbury, England, the youngest of seven children, Hargreaves moved to Canada following WWII with his family and settled in Windsor, ON. Hargreaves started in radio as a weekend newsreader in a volunteer position in Leamington. He would go on to become the CBC’s first Parliamentary Bureau Chief and later led Radio Canada International, the CBC’s shortwave service. In retirement, he lived in St. Petersburg, Russia; Kazakhstan and Mongolia as the spouse of Canadian diplomat Anna Biolik.
Blue Ant Media, which operates specialty channels A.Side, BBC Earth, Cottage Life, HIFI, Love Nature, Makeful, T + E and Smithsonian Channel, is appealing to the CRTC to reduce its Programs of National Interest (PNI) quota from 13.5% of gross annual revenues to 5%. Blue Ant says its PNI requirement shouldn’t be higher than the major broadcasters. Rogers’ requirement is currently set at 5%, Corus 8.5% and Bell 7.5%. Blue Ant’s Canadian content quotas would remain status quo.
Wattpad, the Toronto-headquartered online storytelling community that connects unsigned writers and readers, has signed a first look deal with Sony Pictures Television. Wattpad uses “story DNA” to analyze sentence structure, word use and grammar, with the goal of helping uncover the next bestseller, boasting 70 million monthly users. Netflix optioned last year’s original hit The Kissing Booth from Wattpad, which was read 19 million times worldwide on the platform. Hulu series Light as a Feather, also a Wattpad option, was recently nominated for a Daytime Emmy.
Creative Export Canada’s inaugural project slate has been revealed with 20 projects sharing a total of nearly $7.8 million in funding. Among them are Quebec’s Squeeze Studio Animation, Toronto’s Guru Studio, international prodco Inner City Releasing, Montreal’s Moment Factory multimedia studio, gaming and digital developer Playmind, and television producer Trio Orange.
The Alliance for Women in Media has recognized Canadians Annie Murphy and Sandra Oh with Gracie Awards. Murphy, one of the stars of Schitt’s Creek, won in the Actress in a Breakthrough Role category, while Oh claimed the award for Actress in a Leading Role – Drama for Killing Eve. Find the full list of winners here. Oh has also been named to the TIME100 list as one of the most influential people of 2019.
Screen Nova Scotia has revealed this year’s award nominees, recognizing Nova Scotia film, television and animation. Among the nominees are Mr. D, Forgive Me, Trailer Park Boys, and This Hour Has 22 Minutes in the Best Television Series category. The Screen Nova Scotia Awards Gala will take place Friday, May 3 at Casino Nova Scotia in Halifax.
Saloon Media, a Blue Ant Media company, has announced that new four-part docudrama series The Witches of Salem has been greenlit by Travel Channel (U.S.) and T+E (Canada). The series, about the infamous 17th century witch trials, will be produced by Saloon Media in association with Talos Films, Travel Channel, and T+E. International content distributor Blue Ant International has exclusive worldwide rights to the series.
Telefilm Canada has called for entries for Sunny Side of the Doc 2019, taking place in La Rochelle France, June 24-27. Sunny Side of the Doc is an international market dedicated to documentary and factual content where the industry gathers over four days to sell or buy projects and programs, and find partners. The registration deadline is May 15.
CBC has announced the return of Battle of the Blades for a fifth season. From Insight Productions, the series – which combines figure skating and hockey – will return this fall. First launched in 2009, Battle of the Blades was broadcast on CBC from 2009 – 2013. According to Numeris data provided by the public broadcaster, it remains the highest-rated original English-language Canadian format of all time.
Global has announced the first wave of premiere dates for its 2019 summer schedule. Headlining the network’s summer lineup are returning original series Mary Kills People (May 12) and Private Eyes (May 29). New offerings include Royal special Meghan and Harry Plus One, airing May 17, hosted by CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King. Also new to Global’s schedule is action-adventure series Blood & Treasure, premiering with a special two-hour episode May 21. The serialized, globe-trotting drama stars Matt Barr (Sleepy Hollow) and Sofia Pernas (The Brave) as an antiquities expert and art thief, respectively, who team up to catch a ruthless terrorist who funds his attacks through stolen treasure. Also joining the lineup is new series The Inbetween (May 29) which follows a woman born with a rare ability to see and communicate with the dead and now helps detectives solve murder cases. Rounding out the schedule are the final season of Elementary (May 23), Season 2 of Instinct (June 16), and Season 3 of gameshow The Wallhits (June 20).
Global has struck a new multi-year broadcast partnership with the Canadian Country Music Association® (CCMA), starting with the 37th annual CCMA Awards on Sunday, Sept. 8. Set to be broadcast live from Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome, ET Canada will produce a live, 30-minute red carpet show that will stream live on multiple platforms. The special will be hosted by ET Canada’s Cheryl Hickey and The Morning Show’s Jeff McArthur.
HISTORY, in association with Breakthrough Entertainment and Bonterra Productions, has started production on new Canadian, original series Breaking Wild (10×60). The doc-series follows the efforts of fearless indigenous cowboys in B.C.’s Nemiah Valley as they fight together for the survival of wild Qayus horses who roam in their midst. Breaking Wild is currently slated to premiere in Winter 2020 on HISTORY.
TekSavvy and its affiliate Hastings Cable Vision are continuing the rollout of IPTV service TekSavvy TV, which is now available in the Toronto area. TekSavvy TV offers customers access to over 100 HD channels of sports, movies, series and kids programming including VOD content from selected channels. Currently available as an app for Apple TV, Android TV, and Amazon Fire Stick, TekSavvy TV Basic runs $20/month with additional theme packages ranging in price from $6 to $20/month. TekSavvy TV requires a TekSavvy residential Internet subscription with a minimum download speed of 15 Mbps.
Bell Media says 2.9 million Canadians tuned in to the final season premiere of Game of Thrones across Crave’s linear, on demand, and streaming platforms. The premiere episode smashed all Canadian Entertainment Specialty and Pay TV linear viewership records, attracting a preliminary average audience of 2.1 million viewers. Additionally, it was the largest night of streaming activity ever for Crave digital platforms. Bell says GOT also helped drive the biggest spike in Crave direct-to-consumer subscriptions ever with a 1000% increase in the week leading up to the final season premiere, spiking to over 3000% on Sunday. The series consistently ranks as the most-streamed title on Crave.ca and the Crave app week-over-week.
Netflix added its highest quarterly paid net adds in the history of the streaming service in Q1 2019, up 9.6 million – a year over year increase of 16% – bringing its total number of subscribers worldwide to 148.9 million. Revenue surpassed 4.5 billion in Q1, with total revenue growth year over year at 22%, compared against 40% in Q1’18. With recent announcements surrounding the coming launch of both the Apple+ and Disney+ streaming services, Netflix says it’s “excited to compete; the clear beneficiaries will be content creators and consumers who will reap the rewards of many companies vying to provide a great video experience for audiences.” Read the full story here.
Disney+ will launch in the U.S. on Nov. 12 with an initial subscription price of $6.99 USD/ month or $69.99 per year. A full North American launch is expected in the first quarter of 2020. The service will feature content from all of Disney’s major properties, including Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and Fox, aiming to offer 7,500 television episodes and 500 films from the Disney library in its first year.
Quebecor CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau told a CRTC hearing Wednesday that it had no alternative but to pull TVA Sports from Bell TV last week as a carriage dispute between the two parties drags on. The CRTC called Groupe TVA to the hearing to show cause why the commission should not issue a mandatory order requiring it to comply with Discretionary Services Regulations after it pulled TVA Sports’ signal for Bell TV customers Apr. 10, just as the NHL playoffs were getting underway. Bell is calling for revocation of TVA Sports’ licence, or alternatively a suspension until the end of the playoffs in June. Peladeau told a news conference that a suspension could pave the way for the end of the French-language sports channel. The CRTC says it will issue a decision “shortly.”
The CRTC has issued its Forecast 2020-2021, supplementing the CRTC Departmental Plan 2019-2020. Among the initiatives on tap to continue into the next year are the commission’s review of its Indigenous broadcasting policy, a public hearing on the renewal of CBC/Radio-Canada’s television and radio licences, and the implementation of a digital system for monitoring compliance in the radio market. The commission says it will also work with stakeholders to launch the next phase in the measurement and collection of accurate data on broadband delivery and performance across Canada. Find the Forecast here.
The Competition Bureau has obtained a court order to advance its ongoing investigation into some of Bell’s telecom marketing practices. The bureau has revealed it started a formal inquiry into Bell’s practices last August under the deceptive marketing provisions of the Competition Act. It’s examining potentially false and misleading representations made in connection with the promotion of Bell’s residential services, including home phone, internet and television sold separately or in bundles. It had to seek a court order because independent telco watchdog, the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS), maintained that handing over the information voluntarily would violate its confidentiality obligations. The order granted by the Federal Court of Canada requires the CCTS to produce records, including copies of consumer complaints filed against Bell relating to its residential services. Read more here.
The 2019 RTDNA Canada Network Award finalists have been revealed honouring network achievement in broadcast, digital and multi-platform journalism. Several categories have early winners, including Sportsnet for best Sports App, the lone finalist. Global News is the lone nominee for the Gord Sinclair Award for Outstanding Coverage of News – Live Special Events – Digital for its online coverage of the Royal Wedding. CBC Radio’s Unreserved is also alone in the Sam Ross Award for Opinion and Commentary – Radio category. Network winners will be announced at the RTDNA Canada 2019 National Conference & Awards Gala, May 10-11 in Toronto.
RTDNA Canada has released the list of finalists for its National RTDNA Awards of Excellence,recognizing the best journalists, programs, stations and newsgathering organizations in radio, television and digital. National winners will also be announced during the RTDNA Canada 2019 National Conference & Awards Gala, May 10-11 in Toronto.
Charnel Anderson and Logan Perley are the recipients of this year’s CJF-CBC Indigenous Journalism Fellowships. The award allows two early-career Indigenous journalists the opportunity to explore issues of interest while being hosted by CBC News for one month at its Indigenous Centre in Winnipeg. Anderson, a member of Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek in northwestern Ontario and a Toronto-based freelance journalist, plans to examine Indigenous-led policies—including the First Nations Lands Management Act—that allow First Nations some exemptions from the Indian Act and help other communities in their pursuit of self-determination. Perley is Wolastoqew from Tobique First Nation, NB, and is in his final year of journalism and native studies at St. Thomas University in Fredericton. He will mark the UN’s International Year of Indigenous languages by exploring education initiatives aimed at revitalizing the endangered Wolastoqew language, which has fewer than 100 fluent speakers. The story or series resulting from the fellowship experiences will be considered for publication or broadcast by CBC News.
RTDNA Canada will posthumously recognize Joe Schlesinger with its highest honour, a Lifetime Achievement Award. A prolific foreign correspondent, Schlesinger played roles at CBC both behind the scenes and in front of the camera, including executive producer of The National and later, chief political correspondent. The award will be presented during the RTDNA Gala in Toronto May 11.
The Western Association of Broadcasters (WAB) will recognize those with 25 and 50 years of service to broadcasting at the upcoming WAB Conference, June 5-6 in Banff. Applications for the Broadcast Order of Achievement are accepted following one’s 25th or 50th year of service. Registration for the 85th annual WAB conference is now open.
The Jim Pattison Broadcast Group (JPBG) has called for applications for this year’s Prairie Equity Scholarships. JPBG’s prairie stations are making two $2,000 scholarships available in 2019 to students accepted into a recognized broadcast education program at a post-secondary institution in Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba. The Equity Scholarship was instituted in 2009 to address the shortage of broadcasters from under-represented groups including Indigenous, members of visible minorities, persons with a disability, and women. Since 2009, 14 students have received scholarships. Find more info and the application form here.
The Atlantic Journalism Awards (AJAs) will present a series of professional development webinars in April and May via AJAs.ca. Among the journalists to be hosted are Robyn Doolittle (Apr. 23) of the Globe and Mail; Halifax-based journalist and author Stephen Kimber (May 3); Jessica Leeder (May 8), the Globe and Mail’s Atlantic Bureau Chief; and Trina Roache (May 15), APTN video journalist/producer, and Cheryl Maloney, Mi’kmaq activist & consultant who’ll discuss how to report on Indigenous issues with understanding and sensitivity. Made possible with the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage, individual sessions are $12.00, while all four can be purchased for $40. Students can register for free.
Pandora, the largest audio streaming service in the U.S., has selected Waterloo, ON-based OpenText’s digital asset management platform for its audio and display advertising. Hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) via Risetime, and partnered with Cyangate on implementation services, OpenText Media Management will support the production and management of over 35,000 advertisements per year. Casey Baker, Pandora’s Director of Advertising Creative Operations, says when evaluating its options, OpenText Media Management’s customization and integration capabilities made it stand out as a solution to manage its creative assets.
NAB Show Product of the Year Awards were handed out during NAB 2019 in Las Vegas, recognizing the most significant and promising new products and technologies on display for the first time at the NAB Show. Winners in a variety of categories, including AI/Machine Learning; Audio Production, Processing and Networking; Graphics, Editing, VXF, Switchers; and Cloud Computing and Virtualization, among others, were selected by a panel of industry experts. Find the complete list of award-winning tech here.
Four reasons why Canadian broadcasters should invest in eSports
eSports teams and tournaments have evolved into household names and lifestyle brands in Canada, yet the broadcasting community still treats the phenomenon as a novelty. Here are four reasons why Canadian broadcasters should capitalize on this growing form of entertainment.
In recent years, eSports – video games played competitively by professional gamers – has seen stratospheric growth in viewership and popularity, so much so, that it was prominently featured at the 2019 NAB Show which dedicated space to its eSports Experience, hosting panels and tournaments focused on the global phenomenon. While American broadcasters have already embraced eSports, with ESPN and Disney acquiring the rights to some of the most popular events, Canadian broadcasters remain reticent even as Canada emerges as one of the most eager territories when it comes to competitive gaming.
1. eSports have become a big business
Canada is more than just a nation of people who enjoy playing video games. Mintel’s Attitudes Toward Gaming study reveals a quarter of Canadians have gone online to watch others play and one in five consider eSports as important as traditional sporting events. To bring this into perspective, the number of Canadians interested in eSports significantly exceeds the number of Canadians interested in the CFL.
Long gone are the days in which gaming was a fringe hobby. According to Reuters, the gaming industry is now bigger than the music and movie industries combined and the most profitable form of experiential entertainment. Canadian entertainment companies like Cineplex have acquired a competitive gaming platform and now feature in-theatre tournaments, while Lionsgate has also invested in eSports.
Gaming has become such a mainstream powerhouse that top streamers are getting paid in excess of a million dollars to promote a game just for playing it for a couple of hours, eSports tournaments have prize pools of tens of millions, several pro teams have valuations of over a $100 million dollars, and the International Olympic Committee is considering hosting eSports as a demonstration at the Paris 2024 Olympics.
For Canadian millennials, video games have become a meaningful conduit to music discovery. A song featured in the soundtrack of a popular video game will be heard around the world a billion times.
2. Canada is a nation of gamers
The average age of the Canadian gamer is 39 and according to the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, there is an even number of men and women comprising Canada’s 23 million gamers. 80% of Canadians view video games as mainstream entertainment, with over 70% of parents gaming with their children at least once a week.
Almost two million of the 26.2 million people who watched The Game Awards in 2018 were Canadian. The show, executive produced by Canadian video game journalist Geoff Keighley, was live streamed on more than 40 different services worldwide. Despite not having a traditional broadcasting partner, it garnered a Canadian audience superior to the Junos.
With such a large proportion of gamers, it should come to no surprise that Canada has become a leader in hosting some of the biggest and most prestigious eSports tournaments in the world. In 2018, the great white north was host to The Dota 2 International Championship, the Get On My Level fighting tournament, and AdrenaLAN.
— UMG Events (@UMGEvents) July 31, 2017
The Dota 2 International 2018 was one of the largest eSports tournaments with Rogers Arena’s 20,000 seats sold out for the six days of the competition and the final watched online by over 15 million people.
3. Canadian talent is a force to be reckoned with
From streamers to athletes, Canada has no shortage of gifted individuals who know how to grow their follower base and keep an audience engaged. Several Canadians like Shroud, Pokimane, and KittyPlays can be found at the top of the most influential Twitch streamers ladder. Canadian artists like Drake and the Weeknd have also become brand advocates, following in Michael Jordan’s footsteps and become co-owners of eSports companies. Gaming properties have transcended from offbeat activities into mainstream lifestyle brands.
When Drake teamed up to play Fortnite with Twitch’s top streamer, Ninja, a 26-year-old who went from working at a fast food joint to making $500,000 a month playing video games, it set a new milestone for the platform.
As one of the top Twitch streamers in both followers and average concurrent viewership, Moroccan-Canadian Imane Anys, aka Pokimane, has been tapped to be the face of high-end and premium gaming products.
Influencers showing their support for eSports is fantastic, but having winning Canadian teams contributes even more to the appeal. When the owners of the Vancouver Canucks unveiled their eSports team, the Vancouver Titans, the expectations from local eSports fans were high. The team has yet to disappoint, currently sitting at the top of the Overwatch League – the professional eSports league for the team-based, Hero shooter video game Overwatch.
In 2017, experts predicted that by 2020 eSports would grow to $1.5 billion in revenue. Those estimates have had to regularly be revised as year-on-year growth rates exceed analyst predictions.
4. There is a demand for content that is not met by Canadian broadcasters
So, this is where we find ourselves: Canadian eSports fans are selling out arenas, filling movie theaters, and watching streams on online platforms in huge numbers, but they’re unable to quench their thirst for information about their favorite Canadian team or eSport from Canadian broadcasters.
Mainstream broadcasting is still treating eSports as a marginal, hobby-based, oddity. This is why Canadian eSports fans have no alternative than to turn to content created by other fans. Ready Set Pwn is a popular podcast dedicated to the Vancouver Titans. Similar podcasts exist for other Canadian teams and eSports, with a large part of their success due to the lack of competition.
Some Canadian broadcasters are warming up to eSports. Checkpoint XP*, the only syndicated eSports radio program, is now airing on TSN radio stations in Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton and Winnipeg. But the longer broadcasters wait to create content focused on local Canadian teams and athletes, the tougher the competition will get. With each passing day, online content creators are growing their audiences and establishing themselves as the authority when it comes to the eSports community in their local markets.
As the great Wayne Gretzky once said: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” The eSports puck is in front of Canadian broadcasters, it’s up to them to take the shot.
*Checkpoint XP is syndicated in Canada through Momentum Media Networks, which is owned by Momentum Media Marketing, Broadcast Dialogue’s parent company.
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