Word is leaking out on CBC plans for the 2010-2011 season and budget woes continue to impact series runs. With ad revenues down sharply the year before, the public network nibbled last season, trimming an episode here, an episode there. This fall, without the "fee-for-carriage" bailout offered to Canada's private networks by the CRTC (albeit in a "sort it out for yourselves and we'll check if it's legal" kind of way), TVFMF is hearing that CBC is taking a sharper knife to series production runs next season.
The most dramatic cut could come at the expense of the network's longest-running entertainment series, 22 Minutes. The Halifax-based comedy may be down to a half-season, with just 13 episodes ordered, down from 18 last season and 20 the season before that. This leaves a three month window for the five member troupe to satirize Canadian politics and other targets. 22 Minutes will be embarking upon its 18th season.
Little Mosque on the Prairie, which saw its weekly average tumble south of the DBBM level ("Dreaded Below Brampton Measure") many weeks last season, looks to be down to one last half season swan song. The series, which blasted out of the gate to over 2 million viewers early in 2007, has shed 3/4 of its original weekly audience.
As previously announced, The Border--which couldn't hold Thursdays opposite many U.S. heavy hitters--is out of production and will not be back next season.
CBC had some breakthrough success in 2009-2010, especially in the fall. After scoring an incredible 1.7 mil+ weekly avg. on Sunday nights, Battle of the Blades will be back with more skaters and more episodes. Dragon`s Den is gold (and costs next-to-nothing) and CBC will take as many episodes as they can get. The Rick Mercer Report had its highest weekly average ever, topping a million a week, and is back for a full 19 episodes. Stealth hit Heartland (left) was also over a million a week, earning another full run on Sunday nights. The Republic of Doyle drew a weekly average close to 800,000 viewers in its first season and--"Oh yeah!"--is back for more. The Tudors did slightly better and will be back for one last head chopping. CTV, however, has snatched the next Showtime/BBC period drama, The Borgias, away from CBC.
TVFMF has learned that first year Friday night comedy The Ron James Show has been picked up for a second 10-episode plus a New Year's Eve episode season after averaging close to 700,000 on Friday nights. Also back is fellow rookie 18 to Life, which, like Little Mosque, struggled against stiff competition on Monday nights. Another 13 episodes have been ordered with production to resume in July.
Official word on CBC's 2010-2011 season is expected next month. In the meantime, with help from our field correspondent "Deep Numbers," here is a list of non-sports CBC shows and rough estimates of their season averages. The totals are based on season-long BBM Canada 2+ totals for original episodes:
1. Battle of the Blades (Performance) 1,737,000
2. Dragons Den 1,720,000
3. Battle of the Blades (Results) 1,270,000
4. Rick Mercer Report 1,081,000
5. Heartland 1,020,000
6. Tudors 823,000
7. Republic of Doyle 791,000
8. Ron James 686,000
9. 22 Minutes 625,000
10. Rick Mercer Friday Repeat 600,000
11. Being Erica 582,000
12. Kids In the Hall (Death Comes To Town) 563,000
13. 18 To Life 553,000
14. The Border 532,000
15. Little Mosque 517,000
16. Just Four Laughs Gala 368,000
17. Halifax Comedy Festival 327,000
18. Winnipeg Comedy Festival 300,000