The American Fall TV Season

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With the recent Let’s Talk TV hearings, about the future of Canadian television and content (and Netflix and Internet and…), wrapping up in Ottawa, it’s a good time to look at what’s new in the Canadian fall TV season. It’s probably also a good reason because fall remains the big time for television programming.

This is only the original drama and comedy that’s been announced for primetime television hours, and doesn’t include the many local news or daytime lifestyle programs that may be on the schedule.

Schedule “highlights” after the jump. Ooh, I think those quotation marks were a spoiler.


The link provided on each network name will take you to a post with fuller announcements of their fall lineups. I’m only highlighting the original Canadian shows. As others have noticed, this won’t take very long until we get to CBC.

CTV/CTV 2 (Bell)

New: None (The show Reign is shot in Toronto but I can’t find anything to determine if it’s a Canadian co-production.)

Returning: Saving Hope – premiered Monday (September 22)

City (Rogers)

New: NHL hockey. All the NHL hockey!!! So, none.

Returning: Package Deal – premiered earlier this month

Global (Shaw)

New: None.

Returning: None. Seriously. (Although, there may be something mid-season.)


New: AscensionStrange Empire

Also New: The BBC’s The Honourable Woman and Australia’s Janet King (I consider these in a different category from American primetime shows.)

Returning: Doc Zone, Heartland, Murdoch Mysteries, The Nature of Things, Republic of Doyle, The Rick Mercer Report, This Hour Has 22 Minutes

Let me know in the comments if I missed any shows.


Alright, so fall is a little quiet on the original Canadian programming front. I certainly have nothing against opening up the whole calendar to new shows. I think we’re already seeing more original programming (definitely in the reality genre) premiering in the summer. But I don’t think that’s actually what the three private Canadian networks are doing here.

Rogers (City) is certainly putting a lot of its money into its newly acquired NHL rights. While not necessarily reflecting Canadian society and culture in scripted programming, one could say hockey is part of our identity. All that hockey is also Rogers’ way of trying to compete in the PVR world, since sports is still something most people watch live (and that could sustain the profitability of advertising during the games…all those games).

Bell (CTV) and Shaw (Global) are probably cooking up a pile of new shows for the mid-season. Right? I just hope it’s not a slew of “Reality Show Title Canada” programming.

CBC exists, of course, to reflect and create Canadian culture. So it’s no surprise they have a lot of original Canadian programming on the air. The corporation has its own budget problems outside of advertising moving online, so we’ll see how it reinvents itself going forward. Hopefully in the vein of a BBC or U.S. cable channel, with even more shows and ones that might even be a bit risky for a network audience.

All of the networks, however, need reinvention. Content creation in the digital world is endless and the signal does not stop where old broadcast signals fell silent or where the CRTC mandates. I believe the way for Canadian networks, channels, and producers to remain viable and relevant is to make more Canadian programming that’s located in this country and reflects people, culture, and realities of Canada (and not just more shows that feature cops and doctors in Anytown, USA). If most of the networks continue to fill their schedules with American programming, they’re going to increasingly find the audience watching those shows elsewhere.