Profiling Canada’s specialty channels

Playback's Chris Powell does some homework for you by examining Canada's specialty channels and revealing potential opportunities for producers who want to sell their shows to the Great White North.
July 23, 2009

Here’s an overview of factual-friendly Canadian specialty channels, as well as a little background on who’s watching what in Canada, and why.

English Canada

Bravo! (CTVglobemedia)
Average Minute Audience: 45,800 (P2+)
A television destination for people who love the arts, whether in the form of classic opera, documentary, a concert hall performance or cutting-edge film. Bravo! is available in more than 6.7 million Canadian homes and caters to adults 25 to 54, with a female skew. Future finances and health are among their primary concerns, therefore they’re more likely to eat healthier foods and have investments.
New for fall: Great Canadian Bio-Series, Photo Xplorers, White Collar
Acquisitions Manager: Jonah Zalken

Discovery (CTVgm)
AMA: 72,300 (P2+)
Ranked first among English-language specialty channels for overall quality of programming for eight consecutive years by Roper Reports Canada, Discovery Canada offers in-depth scientific programming, from animals to the animalistic side of humanity, from the sea to space, and the latest in innovation.
New for fall: Junk Raiders
President/General Manager: Paul Lewis
Director of Commissioning and Production: Ann Harbron
Director of Programming: Lindsay Cowan Dotchison

Food Network (Canwest)
AMA: 44,000 (2+), 24,400 (A25-54), 13,200 (W25-54)
Canada’s leading destination for food-related programming, Food Network reaches more than 5.8 million households and caters to adults 25 to 54, skewing 54% female. Viewers are well educated, with an average household income of more than $80,000. Most are young couples with children (approximately 27% with kids under 12) and lead convenience-oriented lifestyles.
Buzz: Food’s AMA places it among the top 10 specialty channels for adults 25 to 54, and seventh against women 25 to 54. It also grew 6% against adults 25 to 54 and 11% against adults 18 to 49 last season. Susan Dioszeghy, SVP, western region media director for M2 Universal in Calgary, says the channel is also attracting male viewers who are watching with their spouse or significant other.
New for fall: Chopped, Top Chef Masters, The Supersizers Go
VP, Content: Anna Gecan

HGTV (Canwest)
AMA: 56,100 (2+), 29,000 (A25-54), 19,300 (W25-54)
From décor to real estate to renos, HGTV is a leader in home-related TV. Catering to adults 25 to 54, skewing 67% female, viewers are loyal, with adults watching 92.2 minutes per week. They’re also well educated, have an average household income of more than $80,000, and live in either urban or suburban areas. The HGTV audience enjoys entertaining at home and typically watches three-plus hours of TV a day.
Buzz: HGTV is currently the second-ranked channel among women 25 to 54, with viewership in this segment increasing 9% over winter/spring 2008. Along with Food Network, media buyers consider HGTV a leader in product integration.
New for fall: Holmes Inspection, Realtor vs. Realtor
VP, Content: Anna Gecan

History Television (Canwest)
AMA: 79,800 (2+), 40,200 (A25-54) 14,700 (W25-54)
Available in seven million Canadian homes, History Canada specializes in dramas, movies, living history series and docs about the people and events that have shaped our world.
Buzz: Already the second-ranked specialty against adults 25 to 54 (its audience in this demo grew 53% last season), History is now growing its audience in other key demos. Blockbuster films and living history series such as Ice Road Truckers have helped attract female viewers (who found the channel themselves, not as a result of co-viewing). It is now the number four-ranked channel for women 25 to 54, with AMA growth of 66% last season.
New for fall: Expedition Africa, Generation Kill, Life After People: The Series
VP, Factual Content (Canwest): Michael Kot

MTV Canada (CTVgm)
AMA: 12,200 (P2+)
MTV Canada reaches Canadians through an analog channel available in more than 6.3 million homes and the website It has a commitment to 71% Cancon in primetime, and its primary audience is 12 to 34.
New for fall: The Buried Life, Over the Bolts, Disaster Date
SVP/GM, MuchMTV Group: Brad Schwartz
Executive Producer, Docs and Development: Ben Rotterman

MuchMusic (CTVgm)
AMA: 22,100 (P2+)
Broadcasting since 1984 and available in more than 8.2 million Canadian households, MuchMusic is a leading destination for teens and young adults, and its audience of 12- to 34-year-olds are avid consumers and early adopters. Formerly the prime destination for music videos, the channel now favors sizable doses of reality TV. Its associated web property,, delivers music videos and user-generated content.
New for fall: Making His Band, Starmaker
SVP/GM, MuchMTV Group: Brad Schwartz
Director of Programming, MuchMTV Group: Sheila Sullivan

Slice (Canwest)
AMA: 21,300(2+), 9,600 (W18-49), 13,800 (A18-49), 12,800 (A25-54)
Adults 18 to 49 comprise more than 70% of Slice’s audience, and the net also has a strong female skew (75%). Its sweet spot is the thirty-something woman balancing family, work and a social life. Thirty-one percent of Slice’s viewing audience have children under 12, while 39% have a household income of $80,000 or more.
Buzz: In spring 2009, Slice achieved an 18% increase in average-minute audience for adults 25 to 54 and a 20% increase against women 25 to 54 versus the previous year. It is currently the fifth ranked network against women 18 to 34, and in the top 10 analog specialty channels for women 18 to 49.
New for fall: Real Housewives of New Jersey, X-Weighted: Families
VP, Content: Vanessa Case

W Network (Corus)
AMA: 56,000 (2+), 21,000 (W25-54), 19,000 (W18-49), 8,000 (W18-34)
Averaging more than 10 million viewers a month, W Network delivers lifestyle shows offering helpful tips and advice, as well as popular series and Hollywood hit movies. It targets women 25 to 54 with programming that reflects a desire to relax, laugh and learn.
New for fall: Eat Yourself Sexy, Big Voice
VP, Programming: Joanna Webb
Director of Original Productions: Vibika Bianchi
Director of Programming, Acquisitions: Renee Skea

French Canada

Canal Vie (Astral)
AMA: 39,100 (P2+), 11,600 (F25-54)
Available in nearly 2.2 million homes, Canal Vie is the French-language equivalent to the former Life (now Slice) channel. It caters to women 25 to 54, with programs serving up health, psychology, cooking and decorating intel.
Buzz: While French specialty channels have traditionally built their skeds around imported programs, Canal Vie is introducing five new homegrown shows this fall.
New for fall: Cuisinez comme Louis, Le mariage des meubles, Chéri, choisis!
Director of Acquisitions (Canal Vie/ Les Chaînes Télé Astral): Lyse Lajoie

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.