Toronto-based Alliance Atlantis Broadcasting’s specialty networks have witnessed higher-than-average year-over-year growth with advertisers’ most coveted demographic, adults age 25 to 54. For the broadcast year ending August 31, 2003, audience numbers for Home & Garden Television Canada jumped 31%, Showcase (which features movies and dramatic series) rose 24%, History Television increased 21%, Food Network Canada went up 11% and Life Network climbed nine percent.
Phyllis Yaffe, CEO of AAB, attributes the success of the top performing factual channels – HGTV and History TV – to original production and improved scheduling respectively. ‘[HGTV] was dramatically driven by original Canadian production – we’ve created HGTV stars, like the Designer Guys,’ she says, referring to the hosts of the popular decorating show produced by Toronto-based WestWind Pictures. ‘[History TV] was driven more by the theme nights; people know what to expect on the channel. That’s taken years to develop, but its clearly working.’
Yaffe says audience growth should translate into more money for Canadian programs, although the trickle-down effect will take at least two years: ‘We will spend more money on programming – maybe higher license fees for some shows, maybe more hours created in general. Each channel will have to make up its own mind.’
AAB’s seven recently launched digital specialty channels also grew an average of 53%. Industry growth was 17%.