CRTC reveals 2016 TV channel financial data

Warning: This is a long one.

It took a little longer than usual, but the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has revealed the individual TV channel financial data for the broadcast year starting September 1, 2015, and ending August 31, 2016. I’ll be highlighting figures from channels that are somewhat relevant to this blog, so feel free to dig through your favourite (or least favourite) TV channel’s data. How many of them operate with 0 full-time staff? The answer is too many.

In late February 2016, Rogers Media relaunched The Biography Channel as Viceland. Things aren’t off to a fantastic start. Viceland Canada posted a $2.49 million loss in 2016. Overall revenue for the channel dropped 14.13% from the year prior to $5.46 million. That’s the largest recorded single year decline and the lowest revenue total in the channel’s history that I could find (the CRTC only began tracking this data starting broadcast year 2011). Ad revenue for the year grew more than 30% to $786k, but that was easily over taken by a drop in subscriber revenue. Expenses rose nearly 30% in 2016 to $7.95 million, but where that money is going might surprise you. Programming costs actually fell 16%. Rogers dramatically increased the channel’s promotional budget (from $60k in 2015 to $700k in 2016), beefed up their technical back end, and handed out nice pay days to administration (650k in 2015 to $2.35 million in 2016). Overall subscriptions for Viceland fell to 1.51 million from Biography’s 1.63 million in 2015. Maybe it’s time to take a page from Viceland UK and become Tokyo Ghoul TV?

Remember G4? Well, after today it’s only going to be a memory. Rogers is finally pulling the plug on the zombified library dump of a channel. The 2016 broadcast year accounts for the first time G4 had zero first run programming. The results are, as you’d expect, not pretty. Overall revenue saw a catastrophic 68% drop from 2015 to $1.44 million as subscribers fled the channel en masse. This can’t be understated. In 2012, G4 did $10.2 million in business. In four short years, the channel imploded. In 2016, G4 posted a $332k loss as even a 33% reduction in expenses can’t shield you from a massive collapse in revenue like that. The CRTC reports that overall subscriptions for G4 Canada plummeted a whopping 86% from 1.45 million in 2015 to a scant 196k in 2016.

But hey, both FX Canada channels finally posted a profit. Sure, FXX only pulled in $34k. That’s still better than losing the $1.7 million it did in 2015.

Bell Media’s channels are mostly outside the realm of this blog’s coverage, so I’ll only briefly touch upon the channels speculated to be the potential jumping off pad for Wow! Unlimited’s new venutre (I’m not really sure what’s going on with Much, MTV, MTV2, or VRAK but you can see why they rebranded M3 and why Space is staying the course). Comedy Gold fell to 680k subcribers from 2015 and saw a 27% drop in revenue. Investigation Discovery saw revenue grow 16%, but lost 8% of their subscriber base to 1.3 million. Both are profitable. Neither Bell or Wow! have confirmed which channel will be sold, but with stronger numbers, better brand synergy and first run programming, I suspect it won’t be Investigation Discovery.

Superchannel’s parent company, Allarco Entertainment, filed for bankruptcy in May 2016. You can probably figure out which direction their numbers went. The premium multiplexed service posted an $11.9 million loss as revenues fell 18% to $30.5 million and subscribers dropped 13% to 337k. No, I’m not including them here just to be mean. They once aired anime. More recently than some of the other channels mentioned here.

Moving onto DHX Media, broadcast year 2016 marked the first time the company didn’t have programming from Disney to prop up their channels. Unsurprisingly, all three experienced a drop, though maybe softer than what some would expect. The CRTC doesn’t require full financial reports for channels under a certain amount of subscribers, so we only have limited data on Family CHRGD (formerly known as Disney XD Canada) and Télémagino (formerly Disney Junior French). Due to its multiplex broadcasting license, Family Jr. is likely included in Family Channel’s results.

Of the spinoff channels, CHRGD was hit the hardest. It saw an 11% decline in revenue from the year prior to a little over $6 million. This is the first time in the channel’s history that revenue dropped. CHRGD was DHX’s only ad-supported channel. As stated before, because the channels haven’t hit the subscriber threshold the CRTC requires for a full report, this is the only real sense of their performance we have. Télémagino’s revenue tripped a minuscule 1% to remain at $3.7 million. This was also the first time the channel saw a drop since the CRTC started sharing this data.

What about the main Family Channel? It was hit harder than the other two. Revenue dropped 21% to $56.5 million in 2016. Like the other two channels, this is the first time in the channel’s recorded history that it experienced a drop. Up until late November (part of broadcast year 2017), when the CRTC granted the ability to run advertising on premium services, Family relied exclusively on subscription revenue and sponsorships for revenue. Subscriptions to Family Channel fell around 8% to 4.74 million subscribers in 2016. That’s the largest single year drop in the channel’s recorded history. The biggest hit came from their “Other revenue” group, which includes sponsorships and licensing. That dropped 26% to $8.8 million. Family is still profitable, however, posting a $22.3 million profit.

Now it’s time for Corus Entertainment. Broadcast year 2016 was a big one for their channels. In the latter half of the year, they gained control of the Shaw Media business. More relevant to this blog, they purchased the Disney license and expanded the reach of Cartoon Network Canada.

For those curious to know how the Corus Disney quartet did in their first year, I’ve got some bad news. Corus launched three of the channels (Disney Channel, Disney Junior, and Disney XD) as all-new Category B exempt licenses. This means the CRTC doesn’t require financial data from them since they launched with fewer than 200,000 subscribers. While I suspect Disney Channel surpassed that number well before the end of the 2016 broadcast year, the CRTC only required Corus to report on La chaîne Disney, as it’s running on the Télétoon Rétro license. Revenues for the channel grew 21% to $1.96 million. That’s the highest revenue total the license has brought in since the CRTC began tracking data.

Nickelodeon Canada remains largely irrelevant and didn’t (will it ever?) reach the threshold required for a full financial breakdown. In 2016, the channel continued its downward trend. Revenue fell to 14% to $4.97 million. The result is the channel’s largest single year drop in revenue and its second lowest total in the CRTC’s books.

In broadcast year 2016, Cartoon Network Canada assumed the CRTC license held by the now departed Teletoon Retro, revoking CNC’s original Teletoon Kapow license. Did this do anything to help stop the decline Retro was facing? Somehow replacing a library channel that exclusively aired reruns with a channel that occasionally airs first run material only hastened the fall. Cartoon Network Canada experienced a near 20% drop in revenue compared to the last year of Teletoon Retro. The $5.35 million in revenue it pulled in was lower than any recorded CRTC total of the former format. Even more alarming is that the report claims the shift to Cartoon Network Canada caused programming costs to skyrocket to $10.6 million. Under the Teletoon Kapow license, Corus reported programming costs of $4.98 million for broadcast year 2015. It’s hard to believe such an increase in expenditure happened given the channel’s lineup, but it’s important to note that Corus extended their relationship with Turner during this period. Renegotiated terms that are more favourable to the U.S. broadcaster could explain part of the growth in programming costs. It’s always important to remember that Corus shares their programming across their other channels, so high content fees might be buoyed by runs elsewhere.

Moving onto the pillars of Corus Kids; Teletoon, Treehouse, and YTV all experienced significant drops in subscribers last year, but are still heads and shoulders above the rest.

Teletoon’s report combines both the English and French feeds as they operate under the same broadcast license. For 2016, the duo experienced a 15% decline in revenue to $58.5 million. This drop can largely be attributed to the channel getting fewer advertising dollars. National advertising dropped 21% to $26.6 million on the year. While Teletoon still posted a $17 million profit, the channel’s subscriber base shrunk by nearly a quarter. By the end of broadcast year 2016, Teletoon held 6.37 million subscribers. A drop of 24% from the year prior. These are the lowest totals for the channel since the CRTC began tracking them

Preschool oriented Treehouse saw a modest 2% decline in revenue as increases in advertising and subscriber revenue was offset by the channel’s declining “other revenue.” That’s despite a big 24% drop in subscribers to 6.42 million. An increase in subscriber revenue and a decrease in subscriptions doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s likely Corus renegotiated their contracts with cable/satellite providers to get a nicer cut. The channel ended up doing $13.5 million in revenue and eked out a $3 million profit. That ranks as the lowest profit and fewest subcribers the channel has had in the CRTC’s documentation.

That only leaves the jewel in the Corus Kids crown, YTV. The channel suffered the largest drop in subscribers highlighted here (for a living channel), going from 11.1 million in 2015 to 8.3 million in 2016. That decline was over 25%. Revenue fell 8% to $67.4 million. National advertising fell 14% and Corus reported 0 “other revenue.” YTV posted an $18.7 million profit for the year. It goes without saying, that’s the worst YTV has done in the CRTC’s records.

The trend is obvious. With few exceptions, everyone’s dropping. Did you “cut the cord” this year? The CRTC claimed fewer people did last year. Perhaps you downsized your cable package?

    • WewLad
    • September 1st, 2017

    Those Tokyo Ghoul (and other anime) ratings are pretty good, especially considering they mostly air at midnight and still destroy all of Vice’s original programming. As for Canada I’m not surprised. Poor programming with no variety along with cheap alternatives mean more people are cutting the cord. Sports channels will be immune to this as seen with Sportsnet and TSN’s good numbers. That, (along with Teletoon anime) is all I really watch, couldn’t even tell you what on earth YTV is showing nowadays. I too think Viceland Canada could benefit from showing anime, as could Space.

      • Kibichan
      • September 2nd, 2017

      there milking the hell out of spongebob. ..and a few of the new tetetoon cartoons are okay. They don’t want me to rip my eyeballs out of eyesockets anyway.

    • Outside of a big co-pro based on an existing western property, I think Space is beyond airing anime at this point. Their recent originals/co-pros have been both commercially and critically successful to where I suspect airing anime would be “beneath” them. Perhaps as overnight filler, maybe? Even then, Space didn’t try to replicate Syfy’s Ani-weekday block, so it might just be total disinterest from CTV/Bell.

    • Stéphane Dumas
    • September 3rd, 2017

    I saw the 2017 YTV Fall schedule via a post on Toonzone forums at
    comparing it with July 2017 and Nickelodeon Canada Fall 2017 schedule who seem to be more interesting than YTV.

    And let’s compare it with YTV schedule in Fall 2002. or even further back in 1989 when we checked the YTV schedule after the sign-off.

    Should we laugh or should we cry?…

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