Writers strike turns tables in Canadian TV ratings

Canadian Broadcasting Corp. beat rival Global Television

TORONTO -- Canada's TV ratings wars made history Tuesday thanks in large part to the fallout from the Hollywood writers 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 Canadian shows. But during the WGA 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 (2+) from Oct. 1-April 6, compared with a 7.4 share for Global Television during the same period -- a complete reversal from the previous winter season.

While it concedes that it lost out to the CBC in total viewers during the strike, Global Television 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 new homegrown dramas such 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 utilizing such nonscripted reality hits as "American Idol" and "American Gladiator" to boost its ratings during the strike.