More Popular In Canada Than In the States

It’s admittedly sad that the biggest decisions Canadian TV networks have to make are not about their own programming, but which of their affiliated channels will get to simulcast the U.S. shows that we’d mostly find a way to watch anyway. But since I commented before on how CTV would have a problem once American Idol moved to Thursdays (against Big Bang Theory), I should comment on the decision the network has made: according to their new schedule, they will show American Idol on Wednesday, but the Thursday results show will be moved to their sister channel A!, so CTV can continue showing The Big Bang Theory at 8.

This is a reminder of how much more popular Big Bang Theory is in Canada than in the U.S. In the U.S., it’s a very popular comedy but somewhere between second and fourth among comedies, depending on what metric you use. (Among half-hour comedies, it’s behind Two and a Half Men and Modern Family in 18-49, and also Glee if you count that as a comedy. Among total viewers it’s usually behind Two and a Half Men.) In Canada, though, it appears to be the most popular comedy — remember CTV’s claim that its Thursday premiere was the biggest thing since the Friends finale — to the point that CTV chose it over American Idol and probably doesn’t regret the choice.

I have no particular insight into why Big Bang Theory is bigger here than in the States (particularly since it doesn’t seem to be as much of an international sensation as some other hit U.S. sitcoms). Maybe its combination of sweetness and meanness hits our national comedic sweet spot somehow; Corner Gas was by no means the same kind of show, but it did combine an overall charm and friendliness with a lot of behaviour that bordered on sociopathic. Apart from that, I don’t have explanations to offer, but I find it interesting when a U.S. show becomes disproportionately popular here.

I don’t have many other examples of this, though one thing I’ve heard is that WKRP in Cincinnati was always a huge hit in Canada, even as it often struggled in the States. That’s why Canadians of my generation are more likely to consider it a cultural touchstone than Americans are. If there are other U.S. shows you can think of that somehow exploded when imported to Canada, by all means list them in comments.

Speaking of Canada, the CTV mid-season lineup doesn’t mention a return date for Dan For Mayor and Hiccups (if indeed there is one), and Flashpoint and The Listener appear to be the only home-grown shows on this lineup. Virtually everything else has “simulcast” after its name.

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