Wednesday, 7 October 2015

"Freeform" is the new Showcase

Juicebox, Pop, Action. You would never have known these were the names of TV channels because they are just words in a dictionary. Generic, uninspired, bland. Compare that shit to Teletoon, YTV, and MuchMusic; far more recognizable names and, in turn, marketable brands. Basically, if I were to use Google News to search for your brand and I end up getting something completely different, no matter how many times I rephrase it, you fucked up big time. That is exactly why ABC Family's decision to change their name to Freeform is a mistake. Not a huge mistake, just a mistake.

The name change was necessary; parents of America have long complained about the network airing more mature fare than its namesake would have you believe. Of course, parents of America being parents of America, they didn't bother to recognize that ABC Family is named as such due to some contractual crap by the channel's original owners, The CBN, in which the word "family" must be in the channel's name in perpetuity. However, as Disney/ABC were planning on a major revamp for their network, they found out that no such clause exists. They still have to air that CBN crap, but that doesn't mean they have to keep the name. So fuck, Parents of America, and Suck it, CBN!

That being said, the new name is, to be politically incorrect, very lame. At least with ABC Family, you get the impression that network's programming would be more in-line to what a 24/7 version of the ABC broadcast network would be like; mature, yet wholesome. Freeform is just an adjective people use to describe stuff like CBC Radio 3 or MTV2 back in its glory days. It's no different than Pop, a universal word used to describe what is, or was, popular. Wheras TVGN was the name of a fucking network.

You want to know an example of a good name change? Try Sci Fi, a network named after a genre of it had very little to do with that decided to change their name, but keep its pronunciation. Nowadays, its called Syfy and it has since become its own thing, but because of how familiar the name sounds, people can still recognize it. Better yet, try ABC Spark: a name explicitly chosen to avoid confusion with Family Channel, which in itself is confused with the many international networks sharing the same name!

If the new name really was chosen based on research and demographics, I'm inclined to believe so. If I learned anything from the years I've covered television, as well as the news and controversies I've heard from the gaming industry, this market-based research crap only does more harm than good. Anyone who doesn't know a thing about television, but has enough common sense, would have come up with a better name because at least they understand that a name has to stand out. It has to be unique, unconventional, or at least something you can't just look up in a goddamn dictionary.

At the very least, they should keep the ABC branding. Though, on the other hand, didn't they want change their name to XYZ in the first place?

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Even TV Anywhere Apps Suck in Canada

I know I had some unrealistic expectations about the new NickGO app Corus just launched when I tried it out. After all, Corus only uses the domestic version of Nickelodeon as a dumping ground for Canadian originals and an outlet for classic Nick shows. Neither Nick Canada's website or Facebook page has been updated in years, and yet its getting its own TV app?! It's very disappointing that Corus hasn't really taken advantage of their exclusive rights to Nickelodeon programming to build a better streaming platform for them. Bell Media had the right idea with Cravetv and its exclusive access to HBO and Showtime series.

In general, TV Anywhere apps are garbage; they're basically video-on-demand platforms with even less content. More insultingly, their barebones offerings are gated behind a cable/satellite subscription paywall and I still have to deal with in-app advertisments. The best they can do is stream the channel live and offer select episodes from network programming; exactly what YTVGO does. Otherwise, you're better off getting an app for Netflix, Hulu, and Shomi (Also, Cravetv, in 2016) first. After all, what's the point of a live channel stream when you can watch the show you want now and the new episode later?

For comparison's sake, I downloaded both the Shomi and FX apps for my Android phone. Naturally, I'm able to watch past seasons of, for example, the League and You're The Worst on Shomi and the current seasons on FX Now Canada. However, with FXNC, I can only watch the last two episodes aired. So that means, if I somehow miss the first episode within two weeks of airing, I can't watch it again legally. Keyword being "legally", as in, the only way I can watch that episode if I steam it on a pirate site illegally. Is that what you want, Rogers? Because that's what's happening thanks to your shitty app. It's probably better just to watch on-demand from my cable box.

Compare that shit with the Adult Swim app, which offers a lot more value even outside the paywall. I can watch full episodes of old original shows, livestreams from their website, and do some other cool shit. Stuff like that makes these apps a lot less useless than they already are. So not all TV Anywhere apps are shit, they do their jobs fine, but even the decent ones could use a lot of improvement.

At the end of the day, however, I do believe the current TVE model is just a waste of time. HBO had the right idea with HBO Now; instead of tying our brands to the cable subscription model, we should be creating streaming platforms of our own and allow our subscribers to access our content free of barriers (aside from money, of course). Corus should have created a Nickelodeon app that allows fans of Nick's programming, from the 90s to now, to watch them all, anytime, anywhere. Every Simpsons Ever? Try, Every Rugrats Ever! They can do more than just a livestream of the Canadian Nick channel and only a few shows with a handful of episodes.

Canadian companies are so desperate to hang on to the tired cable model, they would settle for the outdated and mundane, when they could have made more money by being innovative and creative. I'm not asking them give their shit away for free, I'm telling them that if they don't try a more creative, consumer-friendly approach, they will lose more than just subscribers.

But, seriously, a Nickelodeon streaming site would be nice...

Thursday, 1 October 2015

FM vs M3: Two digits, One-sided

Yesterday, NuvoTV folded into Fuse and, in the former's place, FM was launched. Sadly, Fuse's schedule looks almost identical to MTV2, mostly because they both air Everybody Hates Chris. So, yet another music network bites the dust, but that's where FM come into play. In an earlier post, I commented on how FM was going to be similar to networks like MuchVibe and MTV Jams; just an automated music video loop. But, looking at its current schedule, FM looks more like Fuse before the relaunch: an entertainment channel that's mainly music-focused.

I don't know how the southies are taking this, but I definitely wish M3 would take notes. In the three years M3 has spent stealing shows, they could have been experimenting more with their format. They could have tried airing videos overnight, when Much and other so-called music networks are airing their entertainment crap. Or, since they like retro videos so much, they could air more retro shows too. I bet you their marathon of Saved by the Bell got more viewers than any episode of Pretty Little Liars. They should have brought in Beverly Hills 90210 or even shows like Charlie's Angels and The A-Team, rather than forgettable fare like Anger Management.

Fuse also has the right idea of targeting millennials, rather than M3's 30+ "cool crowd" that would rather watch FX or Showcase. From the get go, M3's lineup was teen oriented, which clashed horribly with their adult-oriented fare. You would have never guessed that the original home for Reign also airs Dating Naked. More unforgivable, since the MuchMore era, the channel's adult video rotation has been drowned out by CHR crap. If you want to know a better example of a channel targeting a dual-audience, try watching Nickelodeon sometime.

Fuse has nothing to lose with their rebrand. In the near three years Revolt has been on the air, it's become a lot more popular than Fuse. I'm not even sure people know the latter still exists, but they will soon enough. With FM, Fuse is going right after MTV who, like the rest of Viacom, is in the middle of a ratings decline and trying to reverse their luck. MTV's five-network suite is bleeding out, and Fuse's duo of destruction is out for blood.

But in Canada, there's no competition. Every network is doing the same thing: eight-hour blocks, then its back to their imported crap. The only real music network left is Aux, and even they're starting to slip. In the end, I'd rather watch FM than M3, because at least FM gets it. With FM, they're at least trying to modernize the music genre in television. Like I said before, they're finding a mix between music and entertainment, with music on the dominant end.

Bell Media could stand to learn a lesson from these guys.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Comedy Central and Canadian Television

FYI, Bloomberg, Disney Channel. Is it just me, or are we just importing second-hand crap from the States these days. You know what network I want to see? Comedy Central! I find it very ironic that Bell Media has exclusive rights to Comedy Central's shows, the very same shows that helped carry The Comedy Network and got people to watch MuchMusic again, yet they never launched a local version. With the cable revolution on the way, now would be the perfect time.

I suggest doing what Corus Entertainment did with Teletoon Retro and Disney Channel. Unlike Teletoon Retro, Comedy Gold hasn't aired that many new shows since their rebrand from TV Land. In fact, some of their shows have actually moved to The Comedy Network, while The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air airs regularly on Much. If Comedy Gold gets shut down, it won't be missed.

Bell Media is in the process of converting The Comedy Network into a Category B service, which would lower CanCon requirements and enable it to air more foreign programming (and less Cash Cab reruns). It's would actually be for the best if Comedy Gold shuts down, and have its shows incorporated onto The Comedy Network's lineup.

I mean, just look at Comedy. The only shows worth a damn these days are The Big Bang Theory, Fraiser, The Daily Show, The Nightly Report, and Just for Laughs highlights. The rest of the lineup is nothing but rehashed Canadian fare (JUST. FOR. LAUGHS. GAGS!) and, most embarrassingly, shows that have supposedly moved to Much. Much has little room to air reruns of these shows, mainly because its a MUSIC network, so The Comedy Network does it instead. Classic Bell Media.

Anyway, Comedy Gold's demise would leave a slot for Bell Media to launch a new specialty channel. That channel would be the official domestic version of Comedy Central, and it wouldn't just air South Park marathons, but classics like Drawn Together and Reno 911 (a la Nickelodeon Canada). With BiteTV out of the picture, the local version of FXX lacking the Animation Domination block, and the local version of Adult Swim making a big push, a Canadian Comedy Central is just what Bell Media needs to attract potential cord-cutters.

The only alternative is for The Comedy Network to focus more on upcoming Canadian acts, air more from the Comedy Central vault, and take back (*cough*@Midnight*cough*) some of the shows (*cough*Drunk History*cough*) that are currently airing (*cough*Workaholics*cough*) on Much (*cough*Nathan for You*cough*). But since Bell Media is Bell Media, that will only happen when hell freezes over.

Ironically, Hell is an accurate description for this company.

Monday, 28 September 2015


Reign is moving to E! Canada, Pretty Little Liars is ending next year, oh, and Ravenswood is still cancelled. M3 is at the end of its rope with the three big shows that have carried the network post-rebrand. The real stars of M3's lineup however are Mike & Molly, The Mentalist, and Hot and Cleveland; because they are the only shows that are aired regularly for the last three years. In those three years, M3 has grabbed, snatched, and latched onto shows that, for all intents and purposes, shouldn't be airing here.

Despite running for over 100 episodes, M3 (nor any sibling channel that I know of) NEVER aired past episodes of Pretty Little Liars, yet they reran Gilmore Girls like there was no tomorrow. Reruns of Supernatural have also moved off-network, after it was buried in a graveyard slot where no one would be awake to watch it. True Blood only aired a single season on M3 before it was taken off, as was Franklin & Bash, which should have stayed on Bravo. Oh, and the movies; Screw them. If I want to see some decent films, I'll watch Showcase.

From just that small sample, we get the message that M3 is a poser; someone trying to fit in with the cool kids. Cool kids being networks like MTV & VH1 who'd do anything but music. Yet, MTV and VH1 still remain popular because, unlike M3, they actually produce their own shit. That goes triple for CMT Canada, Aux, and even MuchMusic.

More than ever, Much is looking a lot better. Almost two years after they ditched boring teen dramas for comedies and talk shows, they have launched their own MCN on YouTube. Essentially this is their way of ditching VJs for untalented hacks like [insert stupid YouTuber here], but its a nice concept that also acknowledges that the network's former audience is online. Moreover, I'll take TripTank and Moonbeam City over The Vampire Diaries any day.

For a network billed as "larger-than-life", M3 is really lamer-than-lame. Three years later, people still think of it as the ghost of MuchMoreMusic; a network that had a purpose and identity but, like so many others, lost it to ratings, old age, and the need to appeal to everyone but their own audience. The only thing the network is good for is stealing the rights to programs they have no business airing, denying more suitable networks the chance to air them. You call it a business move, I call it fowl play. This is signature bullcrap that only Bell Media can dish out.

Enjoy the ride.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Fave Five: Networks That Should Follow in TeenNick's Footsteps

From the perspective of a YTV viewer, the last couple of years from Nickelodeon are a blur. I remember iCarly, Victorious, Big Time Rush, Spongebob and Fairly Odd Parents. The only recent series from Nick I remember seeing were The Legend of Korra and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That leads me to believe that the main Nick network has only sporadically produced a single show, live-action and animated, that was worth a damn.

So, I'm convinced. Compared to everything after their 2008 rebrand, the 90s Nickelodeon felt like a way better TV channel, and TeenNick has gone above and beyond to bring it back. Subsequently, the network better known for Degrassi, Nickcoms, and burn-offs, has become arguably better than Nickelodeon itself. I'll never favor nostalgia over common sense, but if it could help TeenNick, imagine what it could do for these networks...

1) Disney XD
I love what this channel has become. No longer is it the juvenile boy version of Disney Channel, Disney XD is now the modern successor to Toon Disney we should have gotten in the first place. That being said, with news of a Ducktales reboot afoot, now is the perfect time for the network to go back to its roots.

We need to go back, long before Kim Possible, to the era of One Saturday Morning and The Disney Afternoon. There, we'll find long dormant shows like Darkwing Duck and the original Ducktales. How about some House of Mouse or Pepper Ann? Pit this against Toonami on Adult Swim, I doubt it would win, but it'd be a nice fight.

2) Disney Channel
Of course, the O.G DC should get in on the action. In fact, it's mandatory, because Disney Channel sucks. It does good in the ratings, but channel as a whole is bland, bland, bland. Of course, they already know this, which is why they introduced Disney Replay, a Throwback Thursday to the golden age. The downside is, Disney Channel doesn't have a vault as big as Nickelodeon's; you don't want to dry up the well too quickly.

The reason why Disney Channel makes this list is because, I didn't even know Disney Replay still existed until I wrote this sentence. A little more promotion would be nice, thank you very much.

3) MTV
MTV can never go back to being an all-music channel; it's foolish and futile. Besides, MTV was never truly defined by music, it was irreverent fare like Beavis and Butt-head, The Real World, and Jackass that earned the network its place in pop culture. Nowadays, MTV churns out train-wreck after horrible train-wreck, with only scripted fare, like Teen Wolf and Awkward, keeping the network relevant.

It's about time people were reminded why MTV shifted away from music in the first place. The only way to do that is if MTV ditches the syndicated crap, cracks open the vault, and give the 90s back their MTV: The MTV that was edgy, wild, unruly, and occasionally did something music-related. The idiots in suits wonder how to keep MTV relevant? My advice: try remembering why it was relevant in the first place!

4) Boomerang
Dear god, Boomerang, you don't need an explanation. I'm just gonna tell you what Shia LaBeouf told me: JUST DO IT!!!

5) Nick@Nite
...And so we come full circle. For all the bad vibes I get from people about TV Land's current direction, it's Nick@Nite that should be getting all the flack. Here we have perfect example as to why broadcast networks like Cozi and Me have beaten cable outlets for their nostalgia fix. n@n' s recent airings are little more than shows already seen on other networks, sans George Lopez and Full House. Such as Friends, which Nick has a deal with TBS to air it only at night; or How I Met Your Mother, which is seen on so many networks its not worth keeping track; or the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, currently being gangraped by BET and MTV.

What Nick@Nite really needs to do, is go back further. As long as you got Full House, I think we're overdue for some Happy Days too. Surely the premier classic TV network can do better than this, especially as TV Land continues its Gen X pursuits. If any network should be taking the initiative started by TeenNick, it's its fellow siblings.

...At least its still better Nickmom.

Smile Precure will be a "Bad End" for Saban
OK, everyone remain calm.

We don't know what the status of this...thing is, other than the fact that it exists. So, let's assume that Saban wasn't working on this while Vortexx was falling apart, and that this was their way of announcing that "Yeah, we're doing this." NO, they really shouldn't, and here's why.

First of all, in the year 2015, it's about time children's anime gets the proper treatment it deserves.
The trend of acquiring shows from Japan, smashing it into tiny unrecognizable pieces, and putting it back together as an entirely different show is absolutely disgusting and should have died when 4Kids Entertainment went out of business. Sure, it's mostly toy-driven crap and, outside of Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh, no one really cares about it. Hell, Saban Brand's predecessor, Saban Entertainment, did the same thing with Digimon, and it still remained a nostalgic childhood memory. But the fact remains, it's still a form of censorship; to deny kids even the slightest taste of another country's culture, simply because it's a "cartoon", is revolting.

On a less fanboy-ish note, YTV already tried bringing the original series, Futari wa Pretty Cure, to Canada (and the UK), with their own English dub, produced by Ocean. Even though it was somewhat faithful to the original version, it just didn't catch on. Maybe it was because YTV didn't do a good enough job promoting it or maybe it was because they aired it in the mornings of a school day. Whatever the case, it was no Sailor Moon, dare I say Winx Club was more popular?

So, 4Kids-style dubs suck and no one will watch them, the franchise isn't as popular in North America as anything before it and, much like Digimon, the follow-ups and spin-offs in the Pretty Cure franchise are disputed in terms of quality and memorability. It's almost a fool's errand to try to pull the same trick with this show. Maybe if it was the current series, Go! Princess Pretty Cure, they'd have much better luck, but I just don't see Saban having much luck with this show. Unless they plan to release Smile Precure in its original form, they're better off sticking to Digimon and Power Rangers.

Also, Glitter Force is a stupid name. Just sayin'