Canadian media company Canwest chose Canada Day – this Thursday, July 1 – to launch its new digital service Global Reality Channel, a 24/7 digital channel devoted to re-airing hit reality series. With a focus on series that haven’t repeated in Canada since their debuts, the channel is currently working under a full acquisition model.
‘A lot of these shows disappear pretty quickly after their first run and they’re off the market, so we thought there might be an opportunity to launch a channel that encompassed all of these reality shows,’ says Canwest’s VP strategic programming, specialty, Daniel Eves. ‘[It's] a one-stop destination that has all the biggest reality franchises in one place.’
When evaluating its portfolio of channels, Canwest saw a gap in the market for reality programs that had first-run success but were never aired again. Eves says the other aim of the channel’s programming strategy will be to air international reality hits that have not yet made it to Canadian television.
When it comes to scheduling the channel, says Eves, he doesn’t feel that viewers will plan to tune in on certain nights for specific shows, so it will be a more marathon-based schedule. Weekends will feature marathons of specific seasons of reality hits and in primetime the channel will run three hours of a particular series starting at eight.
In the U.S., the Fox Reality Channel presented a similar offering of acquired reality hits, while also airing original reality programming. The channel launched in 2005, but ceased airing on most carriers in March of this year.
The types of reality that will work on the new channel, says Eves, are more broadly reaching shows that draw in a balanced (though slightly female skewing) 25-to-54 audience. With the channel drawing from the biggest mainstream hits in the reality genre, the types of programs Canwest intends to pick up in future will have to sit well alongside series such as Survivor and The Apprentice.
‘We’re not going for the truTV type of reality,’ says Eves. ‘Whether it’s Cops or some of the things that really skew towards a young male, 18-34, that’s not what this network’s about and [Canwest has] other networks that serve [those audiences].’
Content acquisitions are being overseen by Canwest’s manager of content acquisitions for lifestyle and reality programming Stephanie Shinkoda, who can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.
The channel launches with marathon sessions featuring three reality juggernauts: season one of Survivor on July 1, followed by marathons of the first season of The Apprentice on Friday and season two of Big Brother over the weekend. Other franchises already picked up by the channel include Fear Factor, Real Housewives, Hell’s Kitchen and Top Chef.