Sunday, 31 January 2016

Super Commercial Bowl aka "Ad Night in Canada" aka "Why Canadian Broadcast Networks are Screwed"

I won't dig into this too much because, honestly, this is just stupid. I shouldn't have to talk about this. Last time I checked, people watched the Super Bowl for the flipping Super Bowl, not the ads! Since when did the most important part of the biggest event in sports become a sideshow to a bunch of stupid commercials? The Answer? Since someone decided to turn adverts into works of art and instant viral sensations. As much as I can appreciate someone trying to make my adblocker useless, I'm pretty damn sure that if a Super Bowl ad was a really that enjoyable, someone will have uploaded the damn thing before or after the football game! You know, the thing people actually watch the Super Bowl for?

At least we're being passionate about something that brings football fans and people who don't watch sports together. So much so that, next year, the CRTC will ban simsubbing of the big game! I assume this means if people want to watch the commercials, they can watch the american feed without the Canadian broadcaster blocking it. After all, it's the goddamn Super Bowl, divvying up the audience only hemorrhages the big bucks broadcasters will get. However, because Canadian broadcast networks are so reliant on American programming, the Super Bowl to them is almost like Hockey Night in Canada to CBC Television. It's their biggest source of income, their golden goose, their Empire before Empire even existed! Without it, they're fucked!

I don't care too much about local TV to see the big picture. Let's face it, people only watch Global and CTV for American programming. At least Citytv has some unique shows and originals going for it, unlike the cookie-cutting crap that pops up on the competition every now and then. Remember Remedy or Played? I sure don't! I mean, I never watched them, but they look way too similar to something on CBS for me to care. People wonder why, aside from the CBC, Canadian broadcast networks barely schedule any originals in primetime, not even against freshman shows. Short Answer: They all suck!

The Super Bowl situation might be the last straw for vertically integrated broadcast networks. At this point, you're better up hooking an antenna and watching American broadcast networks instead. You know, the ones actually producing all this shit? Seems as though everything in the U.S is neat, tidy, clean, and balanced when it comes to television. Even as streaming networks make their play for world domination, there's always some new lifestyle or entertainment network popping up to challenge our way of thinking (i.e. Fusion) or some veteran network looking to switch things up or give themselves a makeover (i.e Pop, Freeform). They're the reason why people want to pay only for the channels they want to watch, hense the term "cord-shavers".

But in Canada, we're too far gone. To clean up this broken mess of program rights, simsubbing, network decay, recycled crap, and a total lack of quality in original programming, we have to break the rules, destroy our foundations and start over from scratch. Again, I'd like to remind you: all this because someone wanted to watch a stupid commercial during a football game.

I'd hate to think what would have happened if it were the half-time show we're talking about.

Friday, 22 January 2016

The Chopping Block: Honorable Mentions

Having already covered the major broadcasters, now we get to the bottom of the barrel.

FXX Canada
This network should have never been created, not north of the border nor south, but at least the American version has carved out a hole for itself. FXX followed the template set by the likes of TNT and USA Network; people came for acquired fare, but stayed for originals like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The League. However, what REALLY drew in viewers was its blockbuster acquisition of The Simpsons and the legendary marathon that followed. Those who stuck around after that were rewarded with the likes of You're the Worst and the new Animation Domination block.

The Canadian version did not have the same success story. Before the American channel could even find its footing, Rogers launched its half-assed, medicore, domestic knockoff with barebone offerings on April 1, 2014. How's that for a joke? The handful of shows Rogers owned the rights to were constantly cycled around between FXX and FX Canada in a desperate attempt to find ratings; they even aired original shows meant for FX! And no, FXX doesn't air any of the ADHD shows. Rogers only has rights to new shows produced by Fox-owned studios that premiered after the launch of FX Canada. That means no Justified, no Archer, and thankfully, no Anger Management. As for movies, unlike Showcase, FXX Canada only had about twelve films, yet they aired them constantly to fill air time. 

FXX also had to rely on reruns of Murdoch Mysteries and other original fare to fulfill its CanCon quota. Rogers should be thankful they didn't completely ditch the show after it moved from Citytv to CBC Television, because neither Seed nor Package Deal ever made it past 26 episodes, meaning you'll be seeing the same shit over and over and over again. Even now the channel has to bury these shows in graveyard slots. 

Why couldn't all this shit air on FX Canada instead? Maybe its because of the weird scheduling pattern both networks uses, where the daytime lineup airs in blocks that repeat later in the day, but that would be giving Rogers too much credit. After all, this is the company that aired OLN shows and unrelated comedies on G4. Speaking of which...

G4 Canada
Even in its final years, the American version was a way better channel. From the beginning, G4 Canada blindly did whatever its southern counterpart did: from anime to shows that had nothing to do with video games or technology. On its death bed, the American version scaled back to archival fare, including the Marvel Anime series. But when the CRTC forced the Canadian network to go back to technology-themed programming, they brought in Rude Tube and some tangibly-related shows. Naturally, none of this translated well rating-wise. 

You'd think by now they would have pulled the plug on this channel, ending on a higher note than the American version did. But no, as of writing, they brought back the unrelated crap! I guess they figured since genre-protection was phasing out, no one would mind. What's the point? No one wants to watch this piece of shit anymore, so what difference would doing this shit make? This is honestly the most disgusting thing I've ever seen a network do. Sure, VH-1 might have stopped airing music videos, and Viacom's other networks might follow, but people stopped watching that shit a long time ago. 

No people, THIS is the worst. The absolute worst. 

Everything owned by Blue Ant Media.
You thought Shaw Media and Corus had a problem with recycled shit? Blue Ant Media's suite has become the epitome of some of cable's biggest problems. Recycled programming is everywhere, the prime culprits being Travel+Escape and Cottage Life. The main cause is that most of these networks overlap with each other and, surprise, Blue Ant doesn't have the budget to film that many shows for that many networks. So, if that's the case, then why bother having that many damn networks?! 

Makeful shouldn't even exist; it should have been the empty hole where BiteTV used to be. I'm not suggesting we shut down every network that doesn't rake in thousands of viewers, but as long as you're replacing an entertainment channel with yet ANOTHER damn lifestyle network, why not take the opportunity to review your portfolio and see what other networks need retooling? Ultimately, no one is going to subscribe to all of your networks. So why not make sure half of the programming on one network wasn't recycled from another network?

Really, the only Blue Ant network people actually give a crap about is Aux, by virtue of being the only music channel in Canada that actually gives a damn about music. Even that channel has been slipping; Aux has become the network where BiteTV's programming went. That's not too bad, there are other music networks internationally that air alternative programming. However, Bite was airing Party Down South and Brickleberry, the worst offerings in the reality and adult cartoon genre since Jersey Shore and Sit Down, Shut Up! Suddenly, CMT Canada and MuchMusic look a lot better.

Without a visible flagship brand to catch people's attention, and sister networks with distinctive formats to back it up, Blue Ant Media will be in a bad place by the end of the year.

I'm all burned out. So many networks, so many damn problems. Let's Talk TV has either forced Canadian broadcasters to shape up and make some tough choices, or pushed them to be even lazier with their offerings. Sure, consumers will be the real winners, since they no longer have to pay for any of the crappy networks I mentioned if they don't want to. 

But with the networks they do want to subscribe to at risk thanks to lazy management, will it be worth it in the end?

Saturday, 16 January 2016

The Chopping Block: Bell Media

There's something that needs to be said about companies (and people) with WAY too much money on their hands. Bell Media is one of those companies that think throwing money at a problem will solve it. Like your stereotypical video game publisher, Bell is one of those companies that spend way too much money trying to make more money. It's because of companies like Bell that the healthy competition between TV outlets has become a turf war for American brands.

Point fingers at the CRTC if you want, since they're supposed to prevent companies like Bell Media from getting so much power and control at the expense of television viewers. But to me, Bell Media will always be the cancer killing cable. It's about high time they got their comeuppance. However, because they own some of the most sought after, household names in television, I doubt I'll be satisfied with just a few networks closed down. The on-air job cuts, from MuchMusic to TSN, is just a minor nuance to them. As long as they're making on money, it's irrelevant.

This list is not so much advice for Bell Media as it is just me setting the record straight. If they don't give a shit about how crappy their networks are, who will?

BookTelevision & FashionTelevisionChannel
Needs no explanation. They're both outdated and get no promotion; especially the former. In the case of Fashion, there are so many female-targeted networks in this country. Trying to compete with them by focusing on fashion, the one topic that every women's lifestyle channel will have at least one program about, is a fool's errand. Instead of cutting jobs, Bell Media should have cut these tumors.

Comedy Gold
After Bell moved almost all of Comedy Central's programming to MuchMusic, The Comedy Network has become bare-bones. Once the network known for iconic Canadian comedies and comedians, it's only draws nowadays are imported fare like The Daily Show, reruns of The Big Bang Theroy, and now some TV Land fare like Impastor.

It's worth noting that Comedy Gold was launched as a domestic version of TV Land, back when the likes of Me-TV were considered second-tier networks. Unlike Dejaview, Comedy Gold has been given some care by Bell Media, to the point where I would rather watch this channel then The Comedy Network. With BiteTV out of the way, and CanCon requirements soon to be lowered, now is the perfect time for Comedy Gold to fold into it's parent network.

MTV2 Canada
I've said all that needs to be said about this network. It doesn't even air MTV2 programming anymore. Now it's just reruns of any second-hand crap that isn't airing on Much or M3, or can't be aired on MTV Canada due that channel's licence to air talk shows. Once the CRTC gets rid of genre-protection, MTV will be free to air whatever the hell they want, perhaps more teen dramas and comedies. Unless Bell Media plans on turning this channel into a vault for MTV shows, MTV2 is absolutely worthless.

At least M3 has a purpose: to hog all the cable rights to shows that you wish would air on much better networks. But with an American-branded network, you'd expect an authentic experience. Where's Guy Code and Wild n' Out? Why am I seeing a bunch of shitty teen dramas? WHERE'S THE MUSIC?

MTV2 Canada sucks, plain and simple. I'll take the American version any day.

Here's the sad part. All the Shaw Media networks I've listed have some modest viewership and notability, but no one, and I mean No One is watching these channels. Whether these networks close down or relaunch altogether, it will be yet another minor setback for the Bell Media machine.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

The Chopping Block: Shaw Media & Corus Entertainment
Pigs were flying when Corus Entertainment announced that they would be purchasing Shaw Media. I I never thought this would be the year the Shaw family business would become whole, but Let's Talk TV has struck again. If there was ever a time to once again review the Shaw Media specialty channels to see which ones are worth a damn, it's now. After all, some of Corus' networks overlap with Shaw's and maybe this will be the year when both Corus and Shaw tackles their problem with recycled shit.

I've combed though Shaw Media's assets to find, in my opinion, the bad eggs, and here they are...

The only retro programming to be found on this network are the very same classics seen on Prime (the precursor to TVtropolis) years ago. By now, you'd expect a better variety. DTOUR was (re)launched so that Dejaview can become the sole retro cable network in Shaw's portfolio. So why is it that we still get tired out reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond and other syndicated fare instead of more older, iconic shows like SCTV? How come the only Canadian shows on this network are just repeats of Shaw-produced shows?

I'd rather watch TV Land. Better yet, I rather watch Teletoon Retro.

FYI Canada
This network was announced around the same time as the American version. As you'd expect, outside of original shows from FYI, this channel is just another dumping ground for recycled crap. Its fine if it's just one show airing on another network, but if almost all of your programming is airing on different networks, there's no point in subscribing.

Besides, don't we already have enough lifestyle networks in this country? I'm fine with lifestyle shows, but another damn network? As long as were riding off the backs of American networks, why couldn't we get something cool like Bounce TV or El Rey? ANYTHING but more dime-a-dozen crap.

IFC Canada
Wayback when, I said Shaw Media should have changed this channel's name to "Showcase 2", since it's basically what Showcase was before Canwest went bankrupt. However, in retrospective, this channel actually has no reason to exist anymore. If by "independent films" you mean the same twenty Canadian flicks I see every morning on Movietime and Showcase, then we're already covered. Hell, there are a dozen streaming sites and Roku channels that mostly show these kinds of films anyway.

It would be worth it just to see premium series House of Lies and Californication, but now that Crave TV, the go-to streaming network for HBO and Showtime series, is FINALLY available as a standalone service, there's no logic to waiting around for these shows to air on IFC. Oh, and speaking of Bell Media, guess who now has an output agreement for IFC's originals? So, technically, this network has as much to do with its namesake as MTV2 does! It really should have changed it's name to Showcase 2.


Surprisingly, I don't really have that many complaints about Corus' channels. CMT is one of the few American-branded channels that actually produces its own shit, and they look pretty good too (save for Mom's a Medium, of course). OWN Canada is more of a companion to W Network, in that it airs more lifestyle shows, leaving W to its own devices. Then there's Sundance Channel, which is so different from its siblings, save for a few recycled shows, it might as well be owned by a different company.

Its no wonder Corus Entertainment was chosen to be the new parent company of Global, they've improved a lot. However, there's still one bad seed that I have to call out.

Dear god, this network is horrible. Cosmo was once a network for shows for both teenage girls and their moms. However, the arrival of the Oprah Winfrey Network and ABC Spark, plus the overall homogenization of the television landscape to favor women, tween girls, and children, turned this network into the new Myspace. Now its just a dumping ground for W, OWN, and CMT fare.

It's sole exclusive show is Sex and the City which, again, can found on Crave TV. It's not even worth mentioning what other networks in this country air CSI: Miami reruns. So, even their acquired slate is recycled, and when the one reason why Canadians still watch TV is gone, you're screwed.

For these four networks, their days of sucking up YOUR money are numbered. We've already had so many casualties (R.I.P bpm:tv), now's the time for the real scum on the dial to pay the price.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Fave Five: EVERYTHING Wrong with BET

You got me? More like you gotta be kidding me? I've got five reasons why the likes of Being Mary Jane and Real Husbands of Hollywood have become too good for the black MTV.

1) Horrible Presentation
Promotional graphics and bugs are common, but BET took it way too far in 2015 when their promotional graphics for original programming began taking up 1/3 of the screen! I thought Teletoon, Space and The Comedy Network had it bad, but this just takes it to another level of annoying. Also, what is up with cable networks overdoing the promotional material? Isn't it enough that you aired a promo, have banners on your website, put ads in subways and newspapers, and left a sticky note next to your logo bug? I know you're trying to grab attention, but come on!

Oh, and the rest of BET's graphics are awful. The block logo and branding do not mesh up well together. As soon as BET gets their shit together, they need a makeover.

2) Recycled Programming
It's fine if that show you like is airing on two networks, but are you really going to subscribe to a third network you wouldn't normally watch just you can see that same show again? If no, then why do you believe it was a good idea for Nickelodeon, VH1, and BET to air The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? Yeah, that's right. It wasn't a good idea. Recycling shows doesn't work, not if that show airs on a bunch of other networks. It's a lazy ratings grab. Plain and simple.

If you're already subscribed to MTV2, which also airs Martin, and VH1 or Nick, which airs the aforementioned Fresh Prince, and you aren't interested in BET's original programming, you're more likely to check out the competition then a network that airs the same shows as the ones you're already subscribed to.

Whether you like or hate the show, picking up House of Payne was a step in the right direction.

The Canadian feed is shit. Half of BET's programming, mainly the recycled shows, are blacked out. At the time, I thought it was due to programming rights since The Fresh Prince is airing on Canadian networks. However, Martin doesn't air in Canada, yet I can't watch that show on BET. You know what else? The Jamie Foxx Show and The Wayans Bros. don't air in Canada either and I used to able to watch them on BET's feed. But, as of late, they've been blocked out too!

My guess is that Viacom is protesting Canada's pick-and-pay revolution by gating off full access to their properties. As of 2014, they've geo-blocked Spike TV's website, so you need to use a VPN. But because Viacom is Viacom and (as any YouTuber will tell you) they're a bunch of assholes, they took it to another level and gated-off full episodes behind a cable subscription paywall. So, unless you're able to subscribe to an American cable or satellite provider, you're fucked.

American broadcasters fear the unbundling of cable packages will lead to less Canadians watching their channels. Horseshit! AMC is the home of The Walking Dead, the show EVERYONE is watching; A&E airs Storage Wars, Duck Dynasty, and Criminal Minds way more often than any Canadian network does; and, lastly, half of Canada's specialty channels are knockoffs of American brands. American shows are way more popular than home-grown productions, so obviously a lot of people will remain subscribed to the networks that air them. In other words, American broadcasters are either paranoid, greedy, or have no clue how this shit works.

On the other hand, BET's Canadian feed really sucks and not everyone is into MMA or Boxing. OK Viacom, NOW you can start panicking.

4) Zero Quality
The cancellation of 106 & Park had a domino effect on the quality of BET's unscripted programming. The Xperiment, a Tosh.0 clone, was just the opening act; a declaration that the BET known for Hell Date and College Hill was back with a vengeance. Enter forgettable fare like The Westbrooks and Criminals at Work, mixed in with more tolerable shows like Nellyville and a reboot of Punk'd.

All these shows share the equivalent to a drive-by shooting; they came out of nowhere, made a ruckus, and left without a trace. That's the reality TV business in a nutshell: you make five or eight episodes of a forgettable show, it gets some viewership for the network, then it disappears and another show takes its place. I'm not joking, excluding the recently premiered Criminals at Work, all of the shows I mentioned, and the dozen others that BET premiered in 2015, have been taken off their site; as if they never happened.

Based on that, I can tell you right now that Criminals will not last longer than 26 episodes. Couldn't BET at least find one exiting topic to turn into a long-running show, instead of a clusterfuck of others that will get cancelled faster than you can say Just Keke?

5) Does BET Corrupt The Youth?
BET was/is notorious for promoting black stereotypes. Nowadays, I think BET is more guilty of riding off the back of black culture. Their output in 2015 was an absolute waste of resources, whereas their competition have covered some significant events in the past year. What's really jarring to me is that BET has become a five-network suite that's being overshadowed by smaller channels; smaller channels that I believe are making better contributions to the black community. Especially in Canada, with FEVA TV providing a outlet for local Caribbean communities and fans of international music artists.

Maybe I'm tackling this from the wrong perspective, but as far as the future of Canadian broadcasting is concerned, BET might as well exit Canada and sell the streaming rights of their shows to Netflix. It's a better strategy than getting Black Canadians to watch an almost worthless channel.

Also, the Canadian feed sucks. It just does.