Canadian 'Deal' gets Super launch


TORONTO -- Canadian broadcaster CanWest Media Works Inc. on Monday said it will air the Canadian version of Endemol USA's "Deal or No Deal," to be hosted by Howie Mandel, immediately after its Feb. 4 telecast of the Super Bowl.

Toronto-based CanWest MediaWorks plans to air five episodes of "Deal or No Deal Canada" as part of a pact with Endemol USA and Toronto-based Insight Prods., which will produce the homegrown series.

The Super Bowl game represents a prized launching pad for "Deal or No Deal Canada." The NFL championship game was the third most-watched program on Canadian TV last year, with 4.3 million viewers. The broadcast finished behind only a Stanley Cup championship game on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and the Oscars, which pulled in 5.2 million viewers on rival CTV.

Producing a Canadian version of "Deal or No Deal" follows the NBC version of the Endemol format drawing an average 1.3 million viewers last fall on Global Television, a division of CanWest Media Works. It finished in the top 20 among adults 18-49.

Insight Prods. already has produced five seasons of "Canadian Idol" for CTV and FremantleMedia, and is currently producing a Canadian version of the U.S.-based Project Runway, also for Fremantle.

Elsewhere, Chum Ltd. is airing "Canada's Next Top Model" in partnership with CBS/Paramount.

Barbara Williams, senior vp of programming and production for CanWest MediaWorks, said the broadcaster plans to initially air five episodes of "Deal or No Deal Canada" and then gauge its audience and ad revenue performance before considering whether to do more episodes.

Mandel, at a press conference Monday, said he welcomes returning to his hometown of Toronto, with a broadcaster willing to pay top dollar to produce a game show that rivals production values on the U.S. version.

"They (CanWest) are spending as much, if not more, than the NBC show," he said, adding the potential $1 million top prize for Canadian contestants will go untaxed, unlike the U.S. series where the IRS takes a big whack out of winnings.