TV & Film News – Super Bowl LIV sets new Canadian audience record

Super Bowl LIV broke the all-time Canadian audience record, drawing an average of 9.5 million viewers across CTV, TSN, and RDS, according to preliminary Numeris data supplied by Bell Media. Bell says nearly 18.7 million unique viewers – 51% of the Canadian population – tuned in to watch some part of Sunday’s NFL championship game. Audiences peaked at 12.1 million viewers during Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s high-energy halftime performance. Those ratings push the broadcast to the most-watched of the 2019/20 season and most-watched Super Bowl broadcast ever, beating the 2016 record of 7.32 million viewers. Read more here.

Telefilm Canada has unveiled a new three-year strategic plan. The four priorities of the new plan are to Enhance the values of the “Canada” and “Telefilm” brands; Attract additional funding and investment; Revise the organization’s funding allocation approach; and Optimize operational capability. As announced at its annual public meeting in December, Telefilm will also modernize its Success Index in order to optimize its financing programs. Industry consultations will take place from May to June 2020. Dates and locations will be announced shortly.

The Government of Alberta has introduced a new film tax credit to replace the digital media tax credit it cut in the last budget. Capped at $10 million per production, Alberta-owned productions, that include at least one Alberta-based producer, will be eligible for a 30% tax credit. Other productions may claim up to 22%.


The Ontario Securities Commission has issued a permanent cease trade order (CTO) against Kew Media Group. The multi-genre content distributor has been reviewing its financials following the departure of its former Chief Financial Officer Geoff Webb, who had been with the Toronto-headquartered company since 2017.

CVD VFX, a Vancouver full-service visual effects studio, known for its work on series like Stranger Things, Westworld, and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, has been acquired by Crafty Apes, a VFX company with studios in Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York. Founded in 2014, by Chris van Dyck, who will stay on as studio head, CVD specializes in photoreal CG and compositing, game cinematics, and concept and design services for film, network episodic and streaming content producers. Tim LeDoux, co-founder and senior VFX supervisor, said the expansion into Vancouver is part of the company’s ongoing strategy to enter attractive new markets. Read more here.

Thunderbird Entertainment Group has announced the expansion of its kids and family division, Atomic Cartoons, with the opening of an animation studio in Los Angeles – it’s first in the U.S. The L.A. studio will be led by Matthew Berkowitz, Chief Creative Officer, Thunderbird and Atomic Cartoons. Aaron Behl and Kristin Cummings, Co-Vice Presidents, Atomic Originals, will also hold senior leadership roles. The new studio will house the Atomic Originals team, which has produced projects including The Last Kids on Earth and Hello Ninja, both currently streaming on Netflix. Its primary focus will be on on pre-and-post production – including writing, directing, storyboarding, design, casting and recording, and editorial. Thunderbird says the studio’s first project is already in production for an unnamed global broadcaster. Atomic now has capacity for 880 crew members across its three facilities. Read more here.

Bell has struck a last-minute carriage deal to keep AMC in its cable package. While notifying customers the channel would disappear from its offerings Feb. 1, Bell has confirmed the channel will continue to be part of its cable lineup. Videotron and Rogers were able to reach similar 11th hour deals with the channel.


Wattpad stories She’s With Me by author Jessica Cunsolo and H.J. Nelson sci-fi series The Last She are being developed for TV under the Toronto headquartered self-publishing plaform’s first-look deal with Sony Pictures Television. In addition to the Sony partnership, Wattpad is developing Portuguese-language film and television content for the Brazilian market under a partnership with Wise Entertainment.

CTV has announced broadcast details for the 92nd Oscars. The lead up to the event begins on CTV with red carpet special, ETALK Live At The Oscars at 5:30 p.m. ET / 2:30 p.m. PT, followed by live digital show, ETALK Live From the Oscars Balcony at 6:30 p.m. ET / 3:30 p.m. PT on Twitter and Ben Mulroney anchors ETALK’s prime interview position – second only to host U.S. broadcaster ABC – conducting one-on-one interviews, while Danielle Graham and Lainey Lui report from the balcony position. Following the Oscars, ETALK’s coverage continues from L.A. on all platforms, with Liz Trinnear reporting from Elton John’s annual post-Oscar bash, and updates from the Governor’s Ball and Vanity Fair party.

Kurt Smeaton, Mark Montefiore, and Chuck Tatham

CTV original series Children Ruin Everything is currently casting and set to begin production this Spring in and around Toronto. The new, half-hour comedy from New Metric Media is created by veteran comedy writer and producer Kurt Smeaton (Schitt’s Creek, Kim’s Convenience), joined by writer Chuck Tatham (Modern Family, Arrested Development) executive producer Mark Montefiore (Letterkenny, What Would Sal Do?) and producer Beth Iley (Killjoys). Bell Media Distribution will distribute the series internationally, with New Metric acting as sales agent. 

Bell Media has confirmed Smithsonian Channel’s pickup of Season 3 of original factual series Disasters at Sea in the U.S. market. With Seasons 1 and 2 already sold to more than 100 markets worldwide, the hit docuseries is now in post-production for a third season for Discovery Channel.

Scott Brothers Entertainment has announced its co-developing a new preschool animated series with Sinking Ship Entertainment. Builder Brothers’ Dream Factory will centre around 10-year-old Drew and Jonathan Scott [commonly known as the Property Brothers] who will help solve neighbourhood problems using “imagination, creativity, grit and heart – coupled with a big dose of ‘twin-spiration.’” 

Sinking Ship Entertainment (SSE) has announced that Amazon Prime hit Just Add Magic has been sold to Nickelodeon in an international pan-territory deal. The kids’ live-action 6 –11 serialized mystery series is based on the popular Cindy Callaghan book of the same name. Produced by Amazon Prime and distributed by Sinking Ship Entertainment worldwide, the series follows the adventures of Kelly Quinn and her two best friends after they discover a recipe book full of magic recipes. Nickelodeon has picked up Pay TV rights to the series.

Nelvana has greenlit Season 3 of Miss Persona (60x7min), introducing new characters, music, and themes, and a returning cast featuring entertainer Fred Penner, Alyson Court (Big Comfy Couch), Joe Motiki (The Crawlspace), puppeteer Mike Petersen (Fraggle Rock, Toopy and Binoo) and former WWE wrestling champion Anthony Carelli. The new season will also feature cameos by Emma Wiggle and Steve “Ed The Sock” Kerzner playing “Ted The Sock.” Featuring 60 original songs, the new season is set to premiere Fall 2020 on Treehouse.

Distribution360 has announced a number of international deals for its factual titles. In Canada, Blown Away (10 x 30’) the Netflix Original competition show about glass-blowing, created and produced by marblemedia, has been licensed to Bell Media for its Z-Tele French-language channel. Also in Canada, Rogers Media/SCN has licensed scientific discovery show Innovation Nation (6 x 30’). In the U.S., Court TV Mystery (fka The Escape Network) has picked up two true-crime titles, Crime Stories (76 x 60’) and 13 Seconds: The Kent State Shootings (1 x 60’). Distribution360 has also sold Crime Stories (18 x 60’); Legend Hunters (9 x 60’), Terror in the Woods (8 x 60’), Britain’s Ultimate Pilots: Inside the RAF (4 x 60’) and Red Arrows – Inside the Bubble (1 x 60’) to China’s Vobile. Meanwhile, Phoenix TV in Hong Kong has acquired London’s Modern Buildings.

The National Screen Institute (NSI) has announced that its NSI Online Short Film Festival is concluding after 11 years. Despite its popularity, the festival operated at a loss. The over 1,000  curated Canadian short films featured in the festival will still be available to stream on the festival website.

The Youth Media Alliance (YMA) is inviting children’s media creators to submit their application for the YMA Thérèse-Pinho Scholarship, in memory of kids content producer Thérèse Pinho. The scholarship aims to encourage children’s media creators to learn about multiplatform writing through an intensive workshop to be held at Pixcom in Montreal. Each year, the scholarship gives three to five French-speaking scriptwriters, directors or producers, currently working in kids media in Canada, the chance to work with industry experts for two days (videogames, interactive experience, webseries, AR, VR, podcast, social media content). Workshop fees as well as travel and lodging expenses for participants living outside Montreal will be covered. Applications are due Mar. 6.

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