Saturday, July 12, 2008

Canada: Why does Y&R have a late timeslot and day-ahead episode?

Elsewhere in this blog I have written that I think the later time slot of soaps in the UK and Germany (and even Canada--Young and Restless to be specific) is an important part of their success. People--whole families--can be together to watch their daily serials.

Someone asked me why Y&R has a day-ahead slot in Canada...and I think it is a lucky accident of history. As near as I can tell, because I was there, this is the story....

(a post like this is really just to get some history on the internet...I can't imagine anyone is really interested )

It began in the 1970s with a single station. An independent channel out of Hamilton Ontario (then CHCH Channel 11), about 45 minutes west of Toronto (but with Toronto, Hamilton and the Niagara Peninsula as its viewing area) negotiated to show Y&R on a day-ahead basis and at 4:00 pm. I do not know whether this was prescient or lucky...but it did the trick. At that time of day, with the advance-viewing feature, Y&R became Toronto's explosive soap hit, even beating long-time Canadian ratings champ Another World.

[To this day, Canada-wide, Y&R regularly rates in the top twenty of all television shows...a feat soaps have not accomplished in the US since Luke and Laura on General Hospital].

Shortly after Y&R went to an hour (early 1980s), a hot bidding war ensued, and young national network Global Television (later, CanwestGlobal) acquired Y&R licensing rights.

In their waning months, CHCH resolved to kill the show before losing it. They gave up the day-ahead broadcast, and they moved it to 12:30 pm (concurrent with the US broadcast).

Global planned on how to minimize the damage. Global aired daily recaps (to tell audiences what they were missing--back then there was no internet). In addition, Global celebrated the return to afternoon day-ahead broadcasts (which they had also negotiated) with a hugely promoted (and highly rated) primetime special. The special was a kind of cocktail party, and the entire cast was there. Show hosts moved from table to table as the actors "caught us up" on the story.

[This time in history was personally relevant. When Y&R moved to 12:30 pm, and I couldn't watch it during that brief period, I saved all my money and bought a Sears Betamax VCR. That was my first recording machine...and it was Y&R that made me buy it).

Global differed from CHCH as a national network, which surely was part of the reason Screen Gems/Columbia (then either still a Coca Cola company or about to become one, I think) sold them the license.

Global soon time shifted to 4:30 pm, and paired the show with a 5:30 pm newscast in Toronto/Ontario. That was brilliant, because their late soap paired with an early newscast had major timeslot dominance.

(I see now, when I travel to Canada, that this formula has not been universally different time zones, Y&R airs universally in the late afternoon, but shows vary in exactly when or whether it starts on the hour or after the hour. Examples:

Vancouver - 3pm - Global Channel 11
Edmonton - 4 pm - CITV Global Channel 8
Saskatoon - 4:30 pm - CFSK Global Channel 5
Toronto - 4:30 pm - CIII Global Channel 3
Halifax - 1 pm - CJON [has me scratching me head...would they really show a day-ahead ep this early??]

Channels are approximate, and represent the placement of the main Cable provider in town

Usenet poster Tony has alerted us to the fact that in Newfoundland, NTV (which has a programming service agreement with Global, but is owned by the Stirling family and not Global) does something different. The show is aired same-day at 12:30 pm per . Consequently, Tony tells us it is not the hit in Newfoundland that it is elsewhere in the land.)


Anonymous said...

I am not sure why it is not a hit in Newfoundland, but if you are starting work in the afternoon, it is great to watch it. I watch the Newfoundland channel in Ontario because most times I start work at 1500 in the afternoon

Jezebella73 said...

I agree with the PP...I would say that Y&R is a hit in Newfoundland. I don't know what the exact ratings are but from having grown up there, I would say it's a strongly-watched program. (Though Days or GH may be the true front-runner.)

Just a correction to the above time slots...It airs at 4:00 pm in Halifax as the lead-in to "The Doctors" then the 6:00 pm news. (CJON is actually the call letters for NTV :)

Anyway, I just wanted to say "thanks" for this explanation about why Canada gets Y&R a day ahead...I've been wondering about this for some time so it's great to have a clear explanation.


Jezebella73 said...

P.S. I watched NTV's broadcast today and it's the day-ahead show.