It’s unfair that Canada always gets excluded from televised talent scouting. No matter what, every attempt at displaying fresh Canadian talent has fallen flat on our faces.
Let’s take a trip back to the Canadian Idol days. The first five seasons were ratings juggernauts, yet the sixth (and ultimately final) season took a nosedive in viewership. Idol routinely drew in over 2 million viewers per episode in the early years, and only 1.3 to 1.6 million people tuned into the competition during summer 2008. Producers noticed the ratings dip, and recruited R&B singer-songwriter Jully Black as a mentor, critic and vocal coach. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to rekindle the show’s magic.
So You Think You Can Dance, Canada! suffered a similar fate. Although over 1 million people followed the show’s final season in summer 2011, CTV cancelled it, citing viewership and the economic climate as deciding factors. Numbers for the finale that year were down almost 30 per cent from the previous year.
Canada’s Got Talent is the most recent talent competition to get the axe, and the only one to not progress past its freshman year. CityTV noted that high production costs and low ratings (its finale didn’t even cress 1 million viewers) were the reasons for its cancellation, but the network expressed interest in reviving the series in the future.
After examining each show, I find the issue isn’t talent itself, but a lack of viewer interest.
We could banter all day as to why this is the case and still be totally off. The only way we’ll know is by conducting solid market research. Of course, we can’t just target Canadian television viewers in general, as that wouldn’t yield accurate results. Each market is entertained differently, whether it’s through satirical news broadcasts, reality shows, or sitcoms.
The median viewer age for Canadian Idol was 33 in 2007, and 45 in 2008, while So You Think You Can Dance, Canada! attracted younger viewers (aged 18-34 roughly).
In this case, Canadians aged 21-50 (who watch television for more than two hours a week) could be surveyed. This would determine why they gradually lose interest in Canadian talent competitions, and what would persuade them to follow one.
Who knows? Lighting or audio issues could be detracting Canadians from tuning into Idol, Dance or Got Talent. We won’t know unless we find out for ourselves. Without solid viewership and interest, a television show is meaningless.