|Bachelor Brad Smith: Rogers renewal on the thorns of a dilemma|
The news was tweeted Monday. The fine print, however, was a puzzler: According to Rogers' programming boss Scott Moore, Bachelor Canada won't be back until 2014.
So, what, they want to give the guy a couple of years to sow his wild oats? Well, at least they didn't use CTV's infamous line about Canadian Idol, that it is "resting."
Announcing a pick up with a year break in-between is a head-scratcher, though. Should the release read, "In order to kill any momentum whatsoever..."? This generally isn't how television works. All kinds of things can happen in two years. For one thing, the U.S. Bachelor franchise could run out of gas. The newest, 17th edition of the dating reality series, which began way back in 2002, opened to 6.92 million ABC viewers earlier this month. That was its lowest-rated season premiere ever, but still good enough to win its time slot in the key demos.
For another thing, we could all be watching content on demand attached to the backs of lawnmowers or butterflies by 2014. TV is in such a state of accelerated revolution that planning that far ahead is like mapping out a Leafs victory parade. It may never happen.
For a third thing, inaugural Canadian Bachelor Brad Smith could be married and divorced and eligible to be the bachelor all over again.
So why is Rogers playing coy with The Bachelor? Ratings were just so-so for the series when it debuted this fall, hovering in the 600- to 700,000 viewers per week range. These reality shows don't repeat, don't get PVR'd as much and don't sell DVDs or internationally, so you have to make every cent every week it airs.
That is the tough part for Rogers and other broadcasters right now. While the economy is better than the crash of 2008, ad sales have never fully rebounded. Talk to an ad sales guy and they'll tell you--it ain't ever gonna be like the good ol' days again. Advertisers, like everyone else, are trying to figure out what still works in media old and new.
Still, as it expands its reach across the country, Rogers/City needs name brand franchise shows to build interest and momentum. The one season of Bachelor Canada was a creative success, and lessons were likely learned as to ways to tie in other sponsor and promotional opportunities. Rogers may also be gambling that an expanded presence in Quebec will boost this series over the coveted million-viewers-a-week mark.
Judging from the young ladies who lined up for the finale taping in Victoria B.C. late last year, there are still roses to give away. Rogers may have interest in other Warner Bros. reality franchise properties, so inviting the Bachelor back keeps that content door open. (Although Rogers quickly shot down the notion that they might try a Canuck Bachelor Pad or Bachelorette.)
CBC has suggested a similar scenario with their Battle of the Blades franchise, that it will sit for a year while the public broadcaster saves up for another season. These reality shows can be costly, and maybe the model moving forward in Canada is every other year.
Still, if you're Bachelor Canada host Tyler Harcott, you probably don't get a big fat cheque like Montreal Canadiens' Scott Gomez gets for sitting out a year. This decision raises a lot of questions. Putting a reality show on hold may be the new reality, but we'll see if TV audiences are as patient, loyal and forgiving as NHL fans.