What’s an ION? It used to be called the PAX network, showing reruns of peace loving shows like Touched By An Angel and Highway to Heaven. Soon, the U.S. cable network will be home to two gun-toting Canadian made productions: CBC’s The Border and Global’s The Guard.
It’s taken a while for The Border to land a U.S. sale, with some speculating that an anti-American bias in early episodes of the Toronto-based homeland security series set back that process. On the other hand, it probably helped spur other international sales (the action hour is licensed in the U.K., Italy, Germany, France, South Korea and several other countries), although an American deal is still the ultimate “Ca-CHING!” for most Canadian productions.
CTV certainly has enjoyed tremendous success with their co-production deals with CBS (Flashpoint and just announced The Bridge) and The Listener (coming soon to CTV and NBC). ION is no CBS or NBC (it was dismissed as an infomercial network a few years ago after NBC Universal severed ties with the network), but getting a foot in the U.S. door should boost the cast and crew of The Border as they head into production on a third CBC season. Whether any U.S. buy can save Global’s The Guard at this point is another question.
ION is on a bit of a Canadian buying spree, having announced last month that it is adding the Canadian specialty series Durham Country to its schedule. In the past, PAX piggy backed on a couple of CTV produced shows: Sue Thomas: FBI and Doc.
ION says The Border and The Guard will start airing Stateside later this year. ION CEO Brandon Burgess sees them as a good fit with their current reruns of NCIS and Criminal Minds, and he’s probably right.


  1. Ultimate ka-CHING? I’m sorry Bill, but I don’t know why a sale to a U.S. network, Ion especially, constitutes ‘news’ in our industry still. And especially without knowing how much Ion paid per episode.

    At the end of the accounting day, the sale of The Border to France or Germany could’ve been more lucrative, and depending which network over there, attained the show higher overseas profile (then ION will bring the show here).

    But these US ‘sales’ have been making headlines all week. Like they’re a ‘big’ deal. Like the way the partnering and co-productions between CTV and CBS on Flashpoint and The Bridge were a big deal. But these are two different things, yet most people will read and interpret this news as the same kind of deal. But its not.
    I mean, if The Guard and The Border had secured U.S. network, ION even, pre-licenses against still-to-be-produced upcoming episodes, then THAT would be a headline worth shouting out about.

    A sale is just a sale. Until we know for how much, is it really news?

  2. You are absolutely right. It is one thing to co-produce and co-finance a show, as CTV/CBS do with Flashpoint, quite another to sell U.S. broadcast rights to a second tier cable network with a bit of a checkered history. That ultimate “ka-CHING” I was referring to is the dream of every Canadian producer to sell a show to the U.S. Selling The Border to, say, FX, would have been a “ca-CHING.” This particular sale was probably more of a “ca-choo.”

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