IS REGULAR NETWORK TV PROGRAMMING DEAD? THESE FOUR CANADIAN BROADCAST EXECS SAY NO, IT’S EVOLVING

The past 12 months have been a gut punch for many Canadians. Jobs, hugs and travel suddenly became things we used to do. Instead, life is all about masks, sanitizers and vaccines.

Yes, CBC, CTV and Global all showed year-to-year drops in prime-time viewing by late 2020, but the declines have levelled off. And executives say there’s still a place for broadcast TV in viewers’ lives. ANDRES PLANA

The past 12 months have been a gut punch for many Canadians. Jobs, hugs and travel suddenly became things we used to do. Instead, life is all about masks, sanitizers and vaccines.

The one constant for many has been television. It was the thing that was going to get us all through this lockdown — unless you happened to work for a traditional Canadian broadcast network.

Then it seemed as if 70 years of scheduling know-how had been tossed down “Schitt’s Creek.”

As in the U.S., traditional networks have seen their share of the audience pie shrink for years. The reasons were obvious: there was the rise of Netflix and other on-demand streamers; the flood of so many digital programming choices; the nagging notion that commercials were something your parents had to sit through; and, on top of everything else, the unforeseen COVID pandemic has forced broadcasters to take a hard look at how they do business.

It was becoming a joke. As Tina Fey once cracked, “It’s a great time to be in broadcast television, isn’t it? It’s like being in vaudeville in the ’60s.” Fey made that joke at an awards show in 2008 — 13 years ago. Her new girl group comedy, “GIRLS5EVA,” will premiere on Peacock, an NBCUniversal streaming service.

Has regularly scheduled broadcast network television — the dominant model of commercial entertainment since 1947 — finally run its course?

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