CTV fall programming aims for more female viewers with shows 'This is Us', 'Conviction'
Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, June 8, 2016 2:54PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 8, 2016 4:47PM EDT
TORONTO -- CTV hopes to lure in more female viewers with its 2016/17 programming lineup, offering new titles including the buzzy relationship drama "This is Us" and the Toronto-shot crime drama "Conviction."
"Our CTV viewership, if you measured it, would be 55 per cent female, so for us it's really critical to speak to that audience," Mike Cosentino, senior vice president of programming at CTV Networks and CraveTV, said Wednesday at Bell Media's star-studded lineup launch.
"We wanted to move away a little bit from the superhero genre and get a bit more into very female-centric programming."
The female audience is so critical because "it's coveted in the advertising demos," he added.
"This is Us," about an ensemble of characters whose lives intersect, already has big buzz with an estimated 70 million views of its moving trailer across all social media platforms.
"I think people are wanting a show like this," said Milo Ventimiglia, who stars alongside Mandy Moore as soon-to-be parents.
"I think people are wanting something that is deeply human and emotional and uplifting at the same time.
"I think people want to feel something more than who's shooting who, who's sleeping with who, who's flying off and who's looking in the sky for aliens."
Meanwhile, "Conviction" stars Hayley Atwell as a troubled lawyer and daughter of a former U.S. president who starts working on wrongful conviction cases. Co-stars include Eddie Cahill and Richmond, B.C., native Shawn Ashmore.
Other female-centric new shows on the docket include "Notorious," starring Piper Perabo as a top news producer. It will air on Thursday nights, in a slot CTV said it hopes to strengthen.
Cosentino predicted one of CTV's biggest new shows will be the Toronto-shot conspiracy thriller "Designated Survivor," starring Canadian Kiefer Sutherland as a cabinet member who is thrust into the position of president after an attack on Washington.
"Designated Survivor" was the must-get show on the market," he said. "Literally everybody wanted it."
On the specialty side, Bell Media had a sharper focus on finding compelling original content to help its channels stand out in the era of so-called skinny basic cable packages with pick-and-pay options.
"I think Bravo needed a little bit of love and attention, and so we quite actively looked to acquire programming for Bravo," said Tracey Pearce, senior vice president of specialty and pay at Bell Media.
New series set for Bravo include "Shooter," executive produced by Mark Wahlberg and starring Ryan Phillippe and Omar Epps. The channel also has the starlet drama "Famous in Love" starring Bella Thorne, and the Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay family drama "Queen Sugar."
When asked if Bell Media is considering making new HBO content available on a standalone streaming service -- as American consumers can subscribe to HBO Now for US$14.99 a month -- Pearce said "never say never."
But it's not at the top of their to-do list, she added.
"I think what is at the top of our list is looking at download-to-go as part of TMN to continue to give people the opportunity to have the programs in the way that they want to have it."
Cosentino also addressed CTV's decision to cancel its venerable morning show "Canada AM" and replace it with "Your Morning" later this summer.
"It's critically important that we have a morning show that speaks to our viewers, and so there's absolutely no retreating on our investment in the morning."
CBC-TV unveiled its fall-winter lineup late last month, Rogers Media did so on Monday, and Corus is set to do so on Thursday.