TORONTO — The “Corner Gas” franchise is being pumped into a new streaming service in the United States, in a venture creator and star Brent Butt expects will increase its viewership south of the border.
CTV and Prairie Pants Distribution Inc. say IMDb TV has acquired the U.S. rights to the beloved Saskatchewan-set comedy franchise, which includes the current incarnation “Corner Gas Animated” as well as the 2014 movie and the hit sitcom that ran for six seasons and ended in 2009.
“Corner Gas Animated” seasons 1 and 2 will arrive on the streaming service on Oct. 15 as an IMDb Original, along with 107 episodes of the live-action series and the film.
IMDb TV is a free, ad-supported streaming video service available for U.S. viewers on the IMDb movie database website and through various TV apps and devices.
In Canada, the “Corner Gas” franchise is exclusively available on Bell Media platforms including CTV Comedy Channel, Crave, and CTV Throwback.
Previously, the “Corner Gas” live action series and movie were available in the U.S. on Amazon Prime Video, which is a paid subscription streaming service. Amazon owns IMDb.
Butt says the franchise “was doing really big numbers” that exceeded expectations, and garnered a lot of social media traction, when it was on Amazon Prime Video in the U.S.
He’s excited that the entire franchise, including the animated series, will soon be available to everyone in the U.S. for free.
“As a creator you like to see your work out there, you like to have as many eyeballs on it as possible,” Butt said Thursday in a phone interview.
“So I like how we’re now available to literally 100 million people or more than we were before.”
When asked the terms of the deal Thursday, IMDb TV said it “does not have any information to share at this time.”
“Corner Gas” stars Butt as the proprietor of a gas station in the fictional community of Dog River, Sask. The live-action series was the No. 1 sitcom in Canada during its entire run.
The animated reboot, which launched in April 2018, has been renewed for a third season and is in development. Co-stars include Eric Peterson as Brent’s grouchy dad, Oscar Leroy, and Gabrielle Miller as Lacey, owner of the Ruby cafe.
Butt said they’re considering their increasing audience base in the U.S. as they write the scripts.
“If we come up with a joke that we think, ‘Well is that a reference that just won’t play anywhere else?’ sometimes we’ll decide not to do the joke. Sometimes we do decide to do it,” he said.
“But it is something we consider now. In this last year we’ve been available in 60 countries, the original, so we were thinking, ‘If the animated takes off the way the live-action did and we end up in 60 countries with the animated, we would be kind of silly to just plow ahead without thinking about Canadian references at all.”
Still, they’re not going all Hollywood, he insisted with a chuckle.
“I don’t think it would work if we decided to go all Hollywood,” Butt said.
“You’ve got to keep it authentic, you’ve got to keep its rural roots.”