Last June at Canwest's muted upfront for advertisers, programming boss Barb Williams proudly announced a bold move: pulling two of her 10 o'clock imports out of simulcast to try and manage a little more flow to her schedule.
Although Canadian programmers are normally loath to give up a simulcast (and all the stray U.S. affiliate eyeballs they add to their ratings total), the flip was intriguing. Putting nerd magnet Heroes on Sunday at 10 gets you all the young dudes glued to The Simpsons and Family Guy. Switching Brothers & Sisters to Monday sounded like a good fit behind Global hits House and Lie to Me.
As things stood, with ABC's Brothers and Sisters simulcast on Sunday and NBC's Heroes on Monday, both shows seemed to be under performing in Canada. Flipping the hours was a nice strategic check against the move that comes tonight that has everybody in television leaning forward: The Jay Leno Show. Williams moved to shore up her female demo vs. Citytv's Jay. Let the games begin.
Good plan except for one thing: would NBC really allow a Canadian network to scoop their action hour by a whole day? Wouldn't every lap top lovin' Heroes fan in Canada have this sucker up on YouTube faster than you can say "Save the cheerleader"?
That the Global move didn't fit with NBC's plans was evident last month at press tour. "Yeah, that's not going to happen," said one Peacock programmer. Williams' confirmed at the CFC BBQ Sunday that she had to back down from her experiment. Seems NBC had signed off on it earlier but changed their mind. Damn Yankees!
At least NBC must think Heroes still has enough legs that it is worth protecting.