Thursday, 29 August 2013

Fave Five: Canadian channels going through Network Decay

“bravo”
Bravo used to be the Canadian version of a US channel that focused on high-brow, fine-arts crap. Not that there was anything wrong with high-brow, fine arts crap; it’s just that nobody wanted to see it on TV anymore. If they did, A&E wouldn’t have abandoned that concept. So, the US channel became more focused on pop culture.
Bravo in Canada began to add more drama shows to their lineup, which became the network’s main purpose. It wasn’t just crime dramas, like Criminal Minds, it was drama in general. You could say it pretty much became A&E minus the reality shows. It wasn’t until Bell Media began their logo massacre that the channel got a re-branded logo that separated it from the US channel.
This is an example of decay done right; trading in the less popular shoes of the southern service and becoming its own channel.

“G4”
If you had ask me “What’s so special about the Canadian G4?”, my response would be something along the lines of “Sucks to be you.” This past summer, G4 Canada has refreshed their programming lineup, they’ve pretty much become Tech TV in all but name. Funny, because G4 was originally known as Tech TV Canada before the US channel merged with the US version of G4 to become G4TechTV…and then Neal Tiles took over and the rest is history.
Since then the Canadian channel followed in the footsteps in the southern version; when they showed anime, we showed anime. The breaking point was reached when G4 debuted Adult Digital Distraction – a one hour block of [adult swim] shows - and added in outdoor shows from OLN, the Canadian version mind you. Apparently the networks owners were psyched out by the CRTC who said there programming was “not in compliance with its nature of service definition" and that it detail measures "to ensure that the service is in compliance with its nature of service.”
In the end, unlike its southern counterpart, G4 Canada got rid of all the entertainment programming and added in more informal programming with a focus on technology. It’s like an episode Kitchen Nightmares come true, I love it! Ironically, I do wish G4 would add in some more entertainment programming, as long as it has something to do with “computers, technology, and the internet.”
Besides, by the end of the year, G4 will be history. If we’re not gonna change the name of the channel, then why not do something different with the branding to make it more relevant to Canadians? Because all anyone else will think of when they think G4 is a major fall from grace.

“Slice”
Originally known as Life Network, Slice was rebranded in 2008 as a result the network shifting from shows about food, gardening, and home design to “addictive” programming for women. But that’s not the reason why it’s on this list. Are you wondering why a guy Is commenting on a channel for girls? It’s because Slice is not really a channel for women anymore. Not with shows like The Hero, Summer Camp, Big Brother Canada and Lost and Sold - as if we really need another Storage Wars knockoff, especially when we just got Canadian version of the same show. Though, I guess it’s more of a Canadian Baggage Battles knockoff when you think about it.
Even Slice knows it’s not a 100% women’s channel anymore, as their new blue logo will tell you, and I’m fine with that. Not because I’m a man watching a channel for women, but because there’s already too many channels aimed at women, including the Canadian version of Lifetime – formally Showcase Diva - which might be the reason why Slice has gone this route. Nonetheless, Slice is still a “guilty pleasure” channel, for her and for him, and a successful one at that.

“IFC”
Now we get the bad examples. But first, some stuff I learned about IFC. From what I’ve learned, IFC has gone from being an “Independent Film Channel”, to a channel that shows indy movies, indy shows, indy music, cult classics, underrated shows and shows that were too good to last with a focus on comedies and an indy feel. This…sounds like the greatest TV channel I’ve ever watched.
But, sadly, that’s the US version. IFC Canada claims to be the place “Where All the Cool Movies Go.” Yeah, because Termination Point was so cool. No, IFC is pretty much a generic movie channel with a couple of shows added in for variety. Shows like Game of Thrones, Weeds, Strike Back, Californication, basically any show that was on a premium network. Sounds neat, right? Except that IFC doesn’t even promote these shows. You would have to go to their website or look up the Wikipedia article to know what shows they broadcast.
To their credit, there is a theme to the movies they broadcast. “Cool Movies” translate to films people talk about and films people SHOULD be talking about and the movies and shows all air uncut. And IFC is, to my knowledge, the ONLY basic cable channel in Canada to broadcast premium shows after they air on The Movie Network, Movie Central, and HBO Canada. But what ticks me off about IFC is the fact that it’s just sitting there, on the programming guide, collecting dust and taking up channel space. Meanwhile, TVtropolis, which has also decayed horribly in recent years, has just been replaced with Shaw Media’s new lifestyle channel DTour.
To add insult to injury, Corus Entertaiment – owned by the same family who controls Shaw Media – rebranded Drive-In Classics as a Canadian version of Sundance Channel, which pretty much does the same thing as IFC in the US, hence the network decay. So while IFC and Sundance Channel bury the hatchet, Sundance Canada basically does the job IFC Canada is supposed to do. Whoever fixed the sinking ship that was TVtropolis needs to have a look at IFC Canada and figure out what sinks and what floats. Here’s a tip: drop the IFC branding and keep the on-screen graphics on the top of the screen.

“MuchMusic”
I did rag on IFC for a bit, but don’t think of it as a crappy channel. The de facto crappiest channel in Canada has got to be, hands down, MuchMusic aka Much; I’d pefer it if they just called themselves Much. Much was in the same boat as MTV was. Thing is, MTV went from being a music channel, to the teen lifestyle channel they always wanted to be, they had a sense of direction. I look at Much today, two years after Bell Media has changed its logo, and I see a channel comprised of 1/3 music-related programming, 1/3 teen-oriented programming such as Teen Wolf, Pretty Little Liars and Degrassi, and 1/3 programming from the recycling bins of every other channel in Canada.
Much wants to be a youth lifestyle channel, and I’m perfectly down with that, but their adding in shows that are irrelevant even to those people. Unless the youth of today are huge fans of Saved by the Bell, Fresh Prince, California Dreams and Sabrina reruns; isn’t this what MuchMore was rebranded for? Not only does this take up the space which should be used to show more relevant shows, but it also pushes back all the music-related programming to the mornings and late at night; all because some people can’t get enough Fresh Prince.
I know I’m out of order complaining about stuff I don’t fully understand but, are you seriously telling me that Bell Media wants to lower the amount of music programming on Much just so they can air more reruns of teen sitcoms? No, apparently it’s because "music videos no longer distinguish the service as they are readily available through other sources." Bull. Freaking. Horseshit.
It’s better for Much to leave the teen programing to MTV and just target college students. More importantly, since Degrassi, Teen Wolf, Pretty Little Liars, Akward and Video on Trial are still considered to be the flagship shows, they should get the most air time, not the Fresh Prince reruns.  I’m really hoping the new direction Much will take in the fall will be successful (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QP1YAAJa0GE) because these past two years have been MuchMediocre.