CBC grabs Canada ratings crown

Original homegrown fare beats strike-induced reruns

Canada's TV ratings wars made history Tuesday thanks in large part to the fallout from the WGA strike.

For the first time since 1994, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. beat rival commercial enterprise Global Television in winter primetime ratings, according to BBM Nielsen Media Research.

Global Television makes heavy use of U.S. series in primetime, while the CBC relies primarily on homegrown shows. But during the strike, Global was forced into reruns while CBC rolled out its most ambitious winter schedule in decades.

The CBC posted a 7.8 share in total viewers from Oct. 1-April 6, compared with a 7.4 share for Global Television during the same period — a reversal from the previous winter season.

Although it concedes that it lost out to the CBC in total viewers during the strike, Global insists it maintained a lead during the same period in adults 18-49, the network's key demographic.

The CBC made its audience gains with such new homegrown dramas as "The Border" and "Sophie," the reality series "The Week the Women Went" and a new daytime lifestyle show.

"We've built a schedule with new shows and returning favorites, and we've really hit our stride," CBC executive director of network programming Kirstine Layfield said.

Meanwhile, as Global suffered from a lack of fresh scripted fare, Canada's biggest commercial network, CTV, succeeded in using such nonscripted reality hits as "American Idol" and "American Gladiators" to boost its ratings during the strike.