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Tatiana Maslany, Canadian star of sci-fi series Orphan Black, is getting Emmy buzz, an excitement no one missed at this week’s Banff World Media Festival. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
Tatiana Maslany, Canadian star of sci-fi series Orphan Black, is getting Emmy buzz, an excitement no one missed at this week’s Banff World Media Festival. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

TV’s new equation: Content bonanza meets revenue crisis Add to ...

And as for promotion, Bell Media says Orphan Black and the Canadian series Motive, which aired on CTV and is now holding its own on ABC, were the No. 1 promotional priorities for Space and CTV respectively for mid-season.

Of course, TV viewers, although they might enjoy recognizing the odd location shot in Toronto, probably don’t care that Orphan Black is Canadian content, produced by Toronto’s Temple Street Productions. They only care that it’s compelling. But it was made – and funded – in the context of the Canadian regulatory framework, with cash from a variety of sources, including Bell Media, the Rogers Documentary and Cable Network Fund, COGECO Program Development Fund, and assistance from federal and provincial tax credits (as well as funding from other sources, including BBC America and Worldwide.)

Says series co-executive producer Kerry Appleyard, of the Canadian financing, “It’s massively important, really.”

Social networks: What’s trending in TV land

 

The impact of social networking on content viewing is enormous. BuzzFeed told the festival that 45 per cent of its traffic comes from Facebook; 63 per cent of Buzzfeed’s video views happen during prime time.

 

Co-productions

Corus Television President Doug Murphy said 10 years ago that if a Canadian producer had approached a U.S. company about a co-production, the Canadian would have been met with an eye-roll. Now, he says, he fields calls all the time with co-production proposals.

 

Network ain’t dead?

 

In terms of prestige, there’s nothing like network TV, insists CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler, who called it “the mainstage.” “When they see your ratings on CBS from being on broadcast, and knowing the millions and millions and millions of people that watch their shows, there’s nothing that compares to that.”

 

The impact of technology

on content

The jokes are coming fast and furious, because they can. If you’re watching on demand, and you probably are, you can go back and catch missed jokes by rewatching a scene or an episode – or a whole season. This point was made in relation to Veep (star Julia Louis-Dreyfus was at Banff to accept an award) and has been made about Season 4 of Arrested Development.

 

Virtual opportunity

 

Demand for online content will only increase as the business model gets worked out. CTV will launch its first series conceived for the Web, Backpackers, this summer – with a slew of complementary social initiatives meant to market the show. The series will also run on the CW’s digital platform, CWD, created a year ago for shows which may (or may not) move to the network. As for complementary online programming, there is an expectation now that the quality will be high, and that it will be distinct from what’s on TV. How to monetize all that online content remains a huge question.

 

Branded content

 

Can you remember the last great banner ad you saw? Bet you remember that Old Spice guy on the horse. Branded content is growing rapidly – advertisers want in, and so do content creators. Branded content, done right, is highly watchable and shareable. BuzzFeed, for example, creates the kind of stuff you can easily imagine getting passed around – for example, the 20 coolest hybrid animals (donkey + zebra = donkra), in a campaign for the Toyota Prius. Clearly advertising, it looks like editorial – and it’s a heck of a lot more interesting than your average car ad.

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