Canadians Set For Deal-Making at Los Angeles Screenings

ET Paramount Lot Exterior - H 2011
Entertainment Tonight

ET Paramount Lot Exterior - H 2011

After rotating screenings of U.S. network pilots on studio lots this week, the starting gun on package buying of rookie shows could come as early as this afternoon.

TORONTO – Deal-making among the Canadians at the Los Angeles Screenings in recent years has been mainly focused on bulk-buying by perennial players CTV and Global Television.

Now, it’s rival Citytv’s turn.

“This year, we have a terrifically solid base of returning shows. The challenge is to complement that base,” Scott Moore, president of broadcasting at Rogers Media, which runs the Citytv and OMNI branded networks back in Canada, said while viewing endless U.S. network pilots this week at Hollywood's annual TV bazaar for international buyers.

As rotating screening on Hollywood studio lots for the Canadians continues, Moore said Citytv has fewer holes to fill than in past years as it builds on popular shows like ABC renewals Body of Proof and Scandal as a mid-season show, and Modern Famiy.

But even as it has consistency to draw neck and neck with Shaw Media, the big prize for Rogers Media is challenging CTV for the Canadian primetime rating crown.

“You look at your programming spend as a whole, both for returning and new shows, and we have an idea of what we need to spend on the schedule as a whole,” Moore said.

The major studios are expected to fire the starting gun on deal-making by the Canadians as early as this afternoon, enabling Rogers, CTV and Global Television to finalize their Fall 2012 primetime campaigns.

Bell Media’s CTV, which can shift excess inventory to its secondary CTV Two network, tends to buy ABC and CBS series through long-standing supply deals with the Disney and Warner Bros. TV studios.

Shaw Media’s Global Television tends to do its package buying for CBS Studios, Sony and 20th Century Fox product in Los Angeles, via its own output deals.

Unlike other foreign buyers, the Canadians buy on the hop during their annual Hollywood shopping expedition before rushing back to Toronto to unveil their fall primetime schedules at their own upfront presentations at the end of the month.

European broadcasters, by contrast, can window-shop at the Screenings before buying new U.S. shows later this summer.

Despite competition from cable channels and the Internet, the Canadians are still paying progressively more each year on proven U.S. primetime hits as they bargain with their traditional suppliers, underlining just how key American shows are to their primetime campaigns.

The Canadians get some wiggle-room from the major studios, as their prime time schedules where possible mirror those of the U.S. networks so they can simulcast hit shows to boost ad revenue.

At the same time, the studio suppliers expect the Canadians to meet spending targets before they fly out of LAX later this week, with their suitcases full of rookie and returning U.S. shows to be shopped to Canadian advertisers at their own dog and pony shows.