Field experiments for cultural protectionism

by on November 25, 2007 at 7:58 am in Television | Permalink

The [writers’] strike, Layfield noted, "is perfect timing for our January
launch.  It’ll give Canadians an opportunity to go and watch something
different rather than watching reruns of American shows. "Once (Canadians) see … the quality and the stories that they like, you win them over pretty quickly," she added.  CBC [a Canadian network] announced three new dramas, a sitcom, a daytime talk show and a reality series yesterday.

Here is more.  And on the other side of the border:

With the Writers Guild of America still on strike and no guarantee
that a resumption of talks next week will bring any resolution, this
should all be a boon for Canadian shows vying to air in the United
States, right?…but there is no
indication that U.S. programmers are looking to Canada in droves.

As for one new show, The Border, the Canadian producer remarked:

"Many test viewers who have seen this have said that it doesn’t look
like traditional Canadian television.  It’s got a whole other level of
energy, of entertainment value. There’s never a dull moment," Raymont
added.

Have you heard about cultural path dependence?  The simplest hypothesis, of course, is that once Canadian producers gain a foothold in their home market they will be able to keep it.  I’ll predict no, but stay tuned for further reports next year…

1 Russ R November 25, 2007 at 8:54 am

If the strike runs a few months, I expect we’ll start seeing reruns of the series: “SarbOx and the London Stock Exchange”.

2 Anonymous November 25, 2007 at 1:08 pm

This is pure wishful thinking. The top TV shows in Canada ratings-wise are all American shows (with the exception of Hockey Night in Canada, national newcasts, localized Canadian versions of international franchises such as Canadian Idol, etc). Canadians by and large don’t watch Canadian television… why would Americans watch it?

It’s a completely different story in French: all the top French-language shows are homegrown. Dialect is the determining factor: Quebec French (language and culture) is very, very distinct from European French, while Canadian English is quite similar to American English.

3 Gyan November 25, 2007 at 11:23 pm

Canadians will watch native programming if they’re made aware of it. ‘Intelligence’ is a very fine drama on CBC but an article I read sometime ago indicated that there was hardly any promotion of it. Which means that it may not return after the 2nd season (currently airing). But it richly deserves to.

4 Robert S. Porter November 26, 2007 at 3:12 am

It must be noted that CBC is government funded TV. I can think of one successful TV show from a private network and that’s Corner Gas but it’s terribly unfunny (and I’m from Saskatchewan!).

Canadian shows, as a rule, are awful, especially the critically acclaimed ones. The United States would be better off showing reruns of Dallas.

5 Nate November 27, 2007 at 2:23 pm

Robert Porter is correct. The principle reason that Canadians don’t watch home-grown shows is that they are simply terrible. The French-Canadian shows are almost as bad, but with a few shining exceptions. I keep waiting for a U.S. production house to buy up rights to successful French-Canadian shows and develop them in English with an American feel (similar to The Office)…

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