Ay, carumba! Ditching The Simpsons, part of CBC's slash and burn plan (as reported here in Variety), is a bad idea, man. As one former Canadian network executive (there's been a lot of them lately) said to me recently, "The Simpsons have saved more Canadian networks than probably any other show."
Just this past Wednesday, The Simpsons drew 331,000 viewers at 5 p.m. on CBC, 123,000 in the 25-54 demo (BBM NMR overnight estimates). Sophie (which definitely has been canceled) should be that lucky in prime time.
For the better part of a decade on The Comedy Network, The Simpsons has been the anchor for all to follow, boosting CanCon like The Jon Dore Television Show. It has also been a steady ratings magnet on Global, where it pulled 1,141,000 viewers last Sunday night, 598,000 in the 25-54 demo. Not bad for a 19-year-old show.
Like Jeopardy! (the only other CBC show my 16-year-old son watches) it is an evergreen that never gets old and always pulls in ad revenue. Plus it employs a few Canadian writers, including Tim Long of Exeter, Ont., and Joel Cohen of Calgary, who sneak in their share of Canadian jabs.
CBC is also unloading Martha Stewart, who drew only 50,000 in daytime Wednesday. That's a good thing.
Scrapping an import like The Simpsons may sound like a good P.R. move and the right thing to do in this economic tailspin but in the long run it won't help the network attract the revenue it needs to dig itself out of this hole.