One thing my old pal Jim Bawden was always quick to flip were the numbers. Since the long time TV columnist was squeezed out at The Toronto Star late last year, those overnight TV ratings have more or less gone missing in that daily.
Well, the numbers are in on The Border: 710,000 viewers caught the new CBC drama Monday night. That’s a fair start, but not the million-plus some CBC insiders were hoping for after tons of promotion, Starweek and TVTimes covers and up against weaker than usual competition thanks to the on-going writers strike south of the border.
UPDATED: How do those numbers compare with other programs on Canadian networks at that hour? CTV’s simulcast of Dance Wars: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann (the new Dancing With The Stars spin off) did 1.165 million between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. (all numbers represent total households). A 2005 movie on Global (slapped in to replace strike reruns) managed only 627,000 viewers.
The biggest draws of the night: the return of the NBC drama Medium (CTV, 10 p.m.) pulled an estimated 1,321,000 viewers and early evening gamer Jeopardy! (CTV, 7 p.m.) at 1,312,000. The Border was the third biggest draw Monday night on CBC, behind can’t kill it with a stick Coronation Street (811,000) and The National News (810,000).
While numbers for The Border could go up (a sexy new regular, Sofia Milos, joins the cast next week and there’s more action promised in future episodes), the trend generally works the other way, with a new series finding its audience level after four or five weeks. If it sticks around the 600,000 mark, that’s not bad at a network where an even grittier show like Intelligence was only able to muster around half that many viewers across Canada.
Still, why didn’t The Border open even bigger? A CBC pal has a theory: “Canadians are not going to come to Canadian television for American-style programming,” says Deep Bunker. In other words, why watch CSI: North or CSI: Niagara when you can watch the real CSI‘s that are already on the air?
Deep Bunker sez Canadians have shown they’ll flip back for shows that are “absolutely Canadian” and not just clones of American fare. Look at the success of Corner Gas, Little Mosque on the Prairie and the Rick Mercer Report, to name three homegrown series that have cracked the million mark in recent years.
Have to say Deep Bunker might be on to something.