UPDATE: There was an unconfirmed report late Tuesday that plenty was left on the table when the Canadian show buyers started putting away their wallets. Apparently the buyers were very picky, or just sticking to what CTV’s Phil King described heading down as the new financial reality. Some of the imports picked up, we’re hearing, were “put” to the broadcasters at discount prices as part of minimum purchase agreements made in advance. Look for them all to be promoted as “Canada’s No. 1 new hits” come the fall.
Tuesday was the day all the deals were set to go down at the annual spend-fest known as the L.A. Screenings. The American networks and studios aren’t fools: they know the best day of the year to soak an over-served Canadian broadcast executive is right after the May 2-4 weekend. Between $700M and $800M is expected to be pledged by end of day Tuesday. After that, the Channel Zero guys get to come in to sweep up and get to keep anything they find on the floor. Mr. TV Feeds My Family is not at the screenings, but word does filter back. We’re hearing that the Disney party was crammed, as usual, with Bell executives, including president Kevin Crull. CTV ponied up for Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD last year and the network is expected to have the inside track on this year’s ABC/Disney fare, including the new DC comics series Marvel’s Agent Carter (starring Captain America‘s Hayley Atwell). They likely also bid on Shonda Rhimes new Thursday night drama How To Get Away With Murder. How do the screenings work? Canadian TV execs are locked into airless rooms and forced to binge watch 30+ hours of new series content. It’s kind of like when Netflix drops an entire series in a day, times two, plus every hour is a different show. The experience can leave even the biggest TV fan numb. There’s only so many times, for example, you can hear that same damn song from Lorde. (The Pilot screeners often feature songs that are popular right now but do not make it to air the following September.) This May, execs had to bring extra paper and pencils to keep track of the many limited run “event” series being offered for sale. Besides the comic book hero trend, there were new clones of Homeland and The Americans to wade through. Exactly who bought what will be announced early next month at the Canadian network upfronts in Toronto. Rogers has its preview show for ad buyers on June 3, followed by Shaw on June 4 and CTV on June 5. CBC is planning a quiet little gathering to unveil its 2014-15 fare on May 29.