OWN Canada moves into “Million Dollar Neighbourhood”

Corus Entertainment programming VP Vibika Bianchi (pictured) says the upcoming series reflects OWN's brand values of "community, living your best life and exploring being the best you can be."
August 9, 2011

Production on docureality series Million Dollar Neighbourhood, the first original Canadian show to air on OWN Canada, is set to kick off next week, with a premiere slated for January 2012.

The 10 x 60-minute series from Vancouver’s Force Four Entertainment is set in Aldergrove, B.C., where a┬ácommunity is charged with increasing its collective net worth by CDN$1 million in 10 weeks. One hundred families will work together to up their average net worth by $1,000 each week.

“We’re trying to find something that will be relevant six months down the road,” explains Vibika Bianchi (pictured), Corus Entertainment VP of original programming for lifestyle, reality and factual entertainment.

Million Dollar Neighbourhood has such a strong connection to the overall message of the network. It explores the power of community and that’s a theme that I believe is strong in the mind of our U.S. partners, and felt like a lasting fit.”

Budget for Canadian productions has been limited thus far, Bianchi says, but the “goal is to have as many as we can possibly afford.” OWN Canada launched in March of this year in over six million homes, and is available in Canada through a license agreement with OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

Corus will announce around four new Canadian series for OWN this year, with the hope of increasing that to 50% in the next year.

Million Dollar Neighbourhood‘s efficient production and development schedule, and cross-border appeal, made starting with reality programming the right choice, Bianchi says.

“It just turned out that reality was what was ready to go first and this particular financial-based community social experiment seemed like something [the U.S. OWN team] hasn’t been exploring yet,” she adds.

Right now, she says that her team is looking at shows revolving around broad topics of health, weight loss and weight management, family and community, consumer advice and “if something food-related comes along that feels right, that would also be a good fit.”

OWN Canada will be making more announcements in the next month, but in the meantime, Bianchi is looking for “great ideas, great characters, really good personalities that stand for the same brand and reflect the values: community, living your best life and exploring being the best you can be.”

Look for more from Bianchi in the upcoming second edition of Radarscreen: realscreen’s Global Pitch Guide, available later this month.

(From Playback Daily)

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.