U.S. Reality Shows Dominate Canadian TV Screens
End of reality TV? Not north of the border, where American unscripted series are producing strong ratings for Canadian networks.
Reality TV finally in decline? Not in Canada, it turns out.
American and local unscripted TV is fighting back on Canadian networks, with The Amazing Race Canada and Fox's Masterchef on top-rated CTV emerging as the most-watched summer TV shows north of the border. The Amazing Race Canada, the local version of the international franchise, is averaging 1.11 million viewers in the 25-54 demo in its third season, followed by Masterchef, with an average 826,000 viewers in second place, according to Numeris data.
CBS' Big Brother 17 on Canada's Global Television is averaging 678,000 viewers on Thursday nights and 673,000 viewers on Sunday nights, while NBC's America's Got Talent rounds out the top-5 Canadian summer shows with an average of 666,000 viewers in the 25-54 demo on the City network.
The strong summer showing was mirrored in the U.S. this week, where a special America's Got Talent anniversary episode secured a 1.6 rating with adults 18-49, Big Brother brought a 1.8 rating among adults 18-49 and Masterchef delivered a 1.4 rating in the same demo on Fox. The Bachelorette also had a ratings lift in the U.S. during its 11th season, which ended July 27, and Celebrity Family Feud had a strong summer run on ABC with a 2.0 rating among adults 18-49.
The strong Canadian summer showing for U.S. reality series, however, comes amid concerns in America that networks are relying on stalwarts like Survivor and Dancing With the Stars, new unscripted shows that move the dial are scarce and too many are derivative. There's also a trend toward game shows like ABC's 500 Questions and CBS' The Briefcase as nets look to fewer singing competition series in a post-American Idol landscape.
"The fact that The Amazing Race Canada is the most-watched series in Canada for the third summer in a row, with Masterchef right behind it, is a real indicator that reality programming continues to be appointment television and a key driver of audiences for CTV's summer schedule," Mike Cosentino, senior vp of programming at CTV Networks, told The Hollywood Reporter. CTV during the current summer season has 11 of the top 20 shows, with CBS' drama Zoo as the top-rated summer scripted show and the number one series for the 25-54 demo.
In addition to America's Got Talent, which easily won Tuesday nights north of the border, ABC's Celebrity Family Feud and The Bachelorette are also summer performers on the City network, climbing into the top-20 table here. Hayden Mindell, vp of programming and content at Rogers Media, said City audiences prefer lighter TV fare during the summer months.
American reality TV shows helped raise City's prime audience by 12 percent year-over-year in the 25-54 demo in the six weeks to July 12. "What makes American’s Got Talent, The Bachelorette and Celebrity Family Feud so successful is the simplicity of the formats. These tried and true shows are designed for broad appeal," Mindell said.