It’s no mystery; Canadians love Murdoch

Monday’s early season overnight ratings were an eye opener on several fronts.
First, they continue to show tremendous growth for a series given up for dead just two years ago. Murdoch Mysteries returned to CBC–a network off the radar all summer–with an overnight, estimated 1.4 million viewers. This on a highly competitive night with big guns blazing on the private networks.
(Following Monday’s return with a Leafs/Canadiens game Tuesday should keep CBC on a roll for Wednesdays return of both Dragon’s Den and Republic of Doyle. Maybe CBC should have stuck with interim leadership.)
Bones wins the Monday at 8 hour in total viewers with an estimated 1,647,000, followed closely by CTV’s The Voice (1,647,000) and City’s How I Met Your Mother (1,115,000). Factor in another 859,000 watching Dancing with the Stars on CTVTwo and you’ve got close to six million people watching network TV Monday night. The theory that several hits float all boats is still valid. Broadcast TV, despite Netflix, cable and dozens of other platforms, continues to be the place that by far draws the biggest crowd.
Just two years ago, City canceled Murdoch. It never hit more than 700,000 on that channel, and only achieved that height after booking the prime minister as a guest star. City wanted out of the historical drama business, committing instead to bolstering their comedy brand.
Now Shaftesbury is set to announce a U.S. deal for Murdoch, already a big international player. This series is CBC’s Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman or Touched by an Angel. Critics will ignore it, and it will run for years.
Meanwhile, the comedy commitment hasn’t been an easy transition for City. Package Deal, a well made, well cast series out of Vancouver, opened soft to 284,000 viewers Monday night, despite being wedged between two big imported comedy hits, How I Met Your Mother (1115,000) and 2 Broke Girls (1,067,000).

Package Deal: was not received

City already had to know this hammocking strategy would not work. For whatever reason, the exact same domestic drop occurred when Seed struggled in the same slot last season.
There was some speculation via Twitter that you can’t follow a four-camera comedy with a one-camera comedy like Seed, but that never seemed the problem to me. Deal’s similar stumble out of the gate narrows the fall off to other factors: by 8:30, viewers are itching to flip over to their second or third choices on a crowded, competitive night; comedies–even The Big Bang Theory–take longer to find an audience; viewers simply don’t like Seed or Package Deal, which happens, or viewers get a whiff that it’s Canadian-made and run.
I don’t buy the last one. How then do you explain Murdoch Mysteries or Corner Gas?
The notion that Seed and Package Deal were under served by the media or the network is also nonsense. There were many print stories in major newspapers across Canada for both shows. City ran Package Deal promo clips often and even flagged the comedy Sunday with a half-hour special promoting Package Deal with behind the scenes footage and cast interviews. Local entertainment shows also waved the flag.
Looking for a silver lining, most of the Package Deal audience fell within the targeted 18-49 demo. The same can’t be said for Murdoch, Bones or The Voice. Murdoch, in fact, is very much a plus-50 favourite, drawing just a shade over 300,000 in A18-49. That sits better at CBC, which sells A25-54 and skews older across the board. There are plenty of banks happy to buy ads on Yannick Bisson’s show, including the one he helps to promote.
Ranked A18-49, Monday’s 8:30 p.m. pecking order flips dramatically with HIMYM first, followed by Voice, Bones, Murdoch and DWTS.
Don’t forget, too, that these are overnight estimates. Once Live+7 results are factored in, Murdoch or Bones final totals could jump another 20%.
Monday’s No. 1 show A18-49 is its new No. 1 overall, The Blacklist, just edging HIMYM.

Spader scores. Maybe it’s the hats

Hopefully City will be patient with Package Deal and viewers will eventually find it. The network has boldly stuck with Seed, ordering a second season. It’s too early to move Deal, but testing a domestic comedy at the top of an hour might reveal whether they’d stick instead of switch.
Less of a puzzle, to me anyway, is City’s dismal tally for Project Guatemala. First off, the title sounds like homework, and nobody wants to do homework on Monday. Then it lands with a thud at the end of an all-comedy schedule. Third, the big reveal on this reality series–that a group of entitled young people discover they’re not on a luxury vacation, but have been tricked into building schools in a far off land–is given away in the ads for the series. Thanks, promo clip, you just saved me an hour.
It just sounds so OLN, never City.
Another interesting development Monday is the 10 p.m. battle between The Blacklist and Hostages. So far, Blacklist has gone 1,935,000, 1,833,000 in the first two overnights vs. Hostages 1,209,000, 998,000. A similar story is playing out in the States. Advantage Global.

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