TORONTO — CTV unveiled a varied fall line-up Thursday, betting that a mix of family comedies, superhero series and gritty dramas will capture the broadest audience of Canadians.
“That’s why you call it broadcast, instead of narrowcast,” Phil King, president of CTV, Sports and Entertainment, said in an interview.
“I really believe to be a successful broadcast network, and not just a specialty channel, you can’t be niche. You have to be wide enough to have a little something for everyone.”
Bell Media, which runs CTV, appeared to be taking aim at its competitors with its announcement Thursday. Rogers Media has built its schedule around hockey, for which it paid a whopping $5.2 billion, while Shaw Media is targeting primarily women with its drama offerings.
In contrast, CTV is banking on shows that it hopes will have mass appeal.
Building on the success of Arrow and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the network has added four new superhero series: Ben McKenzie-led Gotham, Marvel’s Agent Carter, The Flash and Forever.
“With so much programming going on nowadays, and all different channels, not just conventional, it’s hard to make noise,” said King.
“When you look at a show like ’Gotham’ … Who hasn’t heard of Batman?”
But CTV has also had to grapple with scheduling changes on U.S. networks. CBS has moved The Amazing Race, long a ratings juggernaut for CTV on Sunday nights, to the tough time slot of Fridays at 8 p.m.
Sundays are already among the most competitive nights on TV, with Sunday Night Football, a barrage of awards shows and cable dramas like Game of Thrones — but will become even tougher in the fall when Rogers-owned City starts airing NHL games.
However, King was optimistic about CTV’s new Sunday night line-up, featuring fantasy series Once Upon A Time and ratings winner Resurrection, the later of which CTV snatched from City.
“I can tell you, the thought process we have or the worry we have on Sunday night hockey is zero,” said King.
“NHL Hockey, without the Maple Leafs playing every week, simply isn’t as big as people think. I know the Leafs aren’t going to play every Sunday.”
CTV also nabbed the top new U.S. comedy of last season, The Millers, from Global.
Starring Beau Bridges as a father who moves in with his son, played by Canadian Will Arnett, the show is expected to continue to be a ratings hit. Bridges, a two-time Golden Globe Award winner who also stars in drama Masters of Sex on Showtime, said in an interview that he wasn’t surprised by the popularity of The Millers.
“I think because it’s a family show, there’s a lot to relate to for everybody. The Millers are like everybody else. We’re dealing with our own particular quirks and trying to get by,” he said.
The new and similarly-titled The McCarthys, about a sports-obsessed Boston Irish Catholic family, will round out CTV’s Thursday comedy block of Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory.
“Having a whole CBS Thursday night comedy block intact hasn’t been done by anybody in a long time,” said King. “There’s enough dark TV. At the 8 o’clock hour, let’s try to be a little bit lighter in tone and more advertiser-friendly.”
CTV’s new drama offerings include How to Get Away with Murder, the highly anticipated Shonda Rhimes series starring Academy Award nominee Viola Davis, and Ryan Phillippe murder mystery Secrets and Lies.
Canadian shows Spun Out and Motive have both been renewed for another season — even though “Spun Out,” a public relations comedy starring Kids in the Hall alumni Dave Foley, debuted to 1.2 million viewers before dropping to 600,000 within three weeks. King said the show has potential for a strong second season, praising its “fantastic cast, deep writing room and experienced producers” in a statement.
CTV has also ordered a new two-hour Masterchef Canada holiday special that will air this winter, as the cooking competition show continues to regularly draw more than 1 million viewers.
Bell Media also runs specialty channels The Comedy Network, Bravo and E!. Elizabeth Hurley’s British monarchy comedy The Royals will join E!, while Angie Tribeca, a spoof of police procedurals starring Rashida Jones and created by Steve and Nancy Carell, was added to The Comedy Network’s line-up.
“The Amazing Race” is not the only show switching time slots. “Grey’s Anatomy” will move to Wednesdays at 10 p.m. and “CSI,” still a Top 10 show for CTV, will move to Sundays at 10 p.m.
“Dancing with the Stars” moves to CTV Two, as does “The Voice.” Cop dramedy “The Mysteries of Laura,” starring Debra Messing from “Will and Grace,” will also air on the channel.
To promote its broadcast of the Super Bowl, CTV announced a Canadian advertising competition that will give the winner commercial time during the Super Bowl.