'Being Erica' raises Maple Leaf in primetime

CBC debuts comedy series to 575,000 viewers

TORONTO -- Local competition is growing for once unassailable U.S. network series in Canadian primetime.

On Monday night, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. comedy "Being Erica" bowed at 9 p.m. with 575,000 viewers, according to BBM Nielsen Media Research.

That's a strong opening for the local comedy, particularly given that it aired against the World Junior Hockey Championships on the Sports Network, which saw 3.7 million Canadians tune in to watch Canada defeat Sweden.

That showing represented the largest-ever audience for the Canadian sports channel, according to TSN, and the most-watched program on Canadian TV since last September.

That's a sharp departure from just two years ago when Canadian shows rarely cracked the top-20 on major domestic network schedules long dominated by U.S. series.

Today, "Being Erica" and a host of new dramas and comedies represent the latest homegrown hits to drive a renaissance in Canadian programming internationally.

SoapNet already has picked up the Toronto-set, single-camera series from BBC Worldwide's Canadian-based production partner Temple Street Prods. The series -- about a young woman, played by Erin Karpluk ("The L Word") who can travel back in time to revisit things that caused her regrets -- also will be shopped by BBC Worldwide.

On Tuesday, the CBC will launch the primetime soap "Wild Roses," a sexed-up "Dallas" set in oil-rich Calgary that still has an American look.

And Friday night, CTV will air the second-season opener of "Flashpoint," a homegrown cop drama that airs on CBS, while rival Global Television will debut the hidden camera pranks series "Howie Do It," a simulcast and co-production with NBC that stars Howie Mandel and was shot in Ontario.

The primetime rise of local product comes as the popularity of U.S. series on Canadian over-the-air TV stations continues to wane.