Those three giant, full page ads in the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail today don't come cheap. CBC is spending big time in order to get the word out that tonight is the premiere of their re-launched national news as well as a brand new look for CBC Newsworld, now re-branded CBC News Network (CBC NN).
If CBC is as good at getting the news out as it is at getting the news on their news out, they should grab a million viewers tonight at 10. I jumped in the car today for 15 minutes and heard four ads for this deal on The Fan.
The ads declared the news will be transparent now, so I'm hoping I can still see it. It certainly promises to be a lot less stuffy, with Peter Mansbridge and Mark Kelley posing sans jacket and tie in those giant ads. If this news thing doesn't work out, they both should get their resume in to Moores, the Suit People.
CBC's flagship national newscast has been hit hard by the new Portable People Meter data, denials to the contrary from the CBC brass. Ever since the new PPM data started going public in September, The National has been knocked down to half a million viewers most nights, while CTV's 11 p.m. newscast has enjoyed a ratings bump up to 1.2 million or higher most nights.
CBC sent a "myth vs. reality" memo out to staff last week, suggesting that it is early days for the PPM data and not to believe rumours that the newscast is in trouble.
The big myth, according to CBC English Services senior management (the stated authors of the memo) is that the National has taken a big hit under PPMs. "Not really, although we recognize the unease any downward movement can create," the memo states.
It goes on to state that The National's 10-10:25 p.m. ratings are down 80-130K against the previous two Septembers.
"Toldya!" as Nikke Finke would say. That would make it fact, not myth, that The National has taken a hit under PPM numbers. Another fact: the memo does not address the big leap in CTV and Global national news viewers over the same period.
And how come CBC doesn't say, hey, those giant Battle of the Blades, Hockey Night in Canada and Dragon's Den numbers? Not so fast. The PPM fairy dust hasn't settled yet. Throw them all away.
In separate conversations, both senior anchor Peter Mansbridge and CBC executive vice president Richard Stursberg have made several valid points to me in the last two weeks about jumping the gun on gauging and reporting on the PPM impact. CBC does get off to a slow start every Sept/Oct. opposite new and returning American hits on Canada's private broadcasters. There is no two election lift as CBC News enjoyed last fall. And, yes, one should consider how some viewers of The National have migrated over to CBC News Network for their nightly news fix at 9 and 11, as well as the new kids who stream the news at CBC.ca.
As the memo goes on to state, CBC News numbers tends to grow as the weather grows colder in Canada. Expectations will be that they certainly should grow given the PR push behind tonight's high powered "brand new CBC news" re-launch.
A few other items mentioned in the CBC memo are newsy in themselves. The memo dismisses as "rumour" talk that another broadcaster asked for and got changes to the PPM sample population (numbering around 4,350 total families according to BBM Canada).
Quite the contrary, says CBC execs, who state they've been all over BBM to make sure their kind of viewers are as hooked up to the pocket-sized meters as anybody else's.
Apparently some other broadcaster expressed concerns about changes in their market size versus a competitor in Calgary and Vancouver (places where Global has dominated for years). "BBM revisited their population samples and concluded that they were sound and reflective of the communities they covered. No changes were made," states the memo. Interesting.
Finally, the CBC brass wanted to shoot down rumours that there were any plans to dumb down the news in order to chase ratings. WhatRya sayin', those four million House viewers are stupid??
In any event, there's a new theme, a new set and a whole bunch of correspondents comin' atcha tonight at 10. CBC has done a good job of getting the word out that news matters. Like it or not, whether more PPM receptors will be within earshot is what matters starting now.