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Canadian Rookie Drama '19-2' Drives to Series High on Solid Sampling

Promoting a new show in a time of splintered audiences proved an early challenge for Bell Media as it used its main CTV platform to launch the cop series on Bravo.

OTTAWA – The producers of 19-2 can thank top-rated CTV for propelling the rookie Canadian cop drama to a series-high telecast on the Bravo cable channel last week.

The English-language reboot of the popular Quebec drama last Wednesday night drew 178,000 viewers with its third episode, according to BBM Canada data.

But a funny thing happened to 19-2 on its way to early hit status ahead of the latest episode airing on Wednesday night on Bravo.

The drama's second episode drew a disappointing 76,000 viewers, according to preliminary data, a steep drop-off from the 139,000 viewers that tuned into the bow on the cable channel.

Beyond creating an audience for the homegrown drama, Bravo-parent Bell Media got a lesson in the increasing challenge Canadian broadcasters face to keep fans of new shows engaged in a time of splintered audiences.

To market 19-2, the vertically-integrated Bell Media adopted the well-worn strategy of promoting the new series off of its vast store of media assets. 

So Canadians sampled the premiere episode of 19-2 on Bell Media's main CTV network, which drew 870,000 viewers, according to BBM Canada data.

That's just short of the one-million-viewer benchmark that's considered to be a primetime hit in Canadian TV.

But that was followed by the second episode ratings slide on Bravo for 19-2, which stars Jared Keeso and Adrian Holmes.

The 10-part drama sees two cops put their differences aside as their lives intertwine professionally and personally.

The verdict was that too many Canadians that viewed the 19-2 premiere on CTV assumed the main network was its home, and were not driven to the second episode on Bravo.

So Bell Media aired a second "special primetime" broadcast of 19-2 on CTV on Sunday, February 9, and made full episodes available on Bravo.ca and the Bravo GO app following their TV premiere.

It took time, but Bell Media's cross-platform promotion eventually got traction, with last week's episode being the most-watched so far.

"It shows that the sampling works. It may have taken a few weeks to find the home, but now the series is doing well," said Scott Henderson, vp communications at Bell Media.

And the producers of 19-2 also got a taste of Canadians watching less TV when networks schedule shows these days when the final PVR numbers for the second episode on Bravo came in with a total audience of 150,000 viewers, up 96 percent from the preliminary data.

The English language version of 19-2 is executive produced by Jocelyn Deschenes and Carolyn Newman from Sphere Media Plus, and Luc Chatelain from Echo Media.

The original Quebec 19-2 series was created by and starred Real Bosse and Claude Legault.