Odd Thoughts: Canada ranks low on audience lists

As someone who is distinctly not a sports enthusiast, I’m obviously not on the right side of this fence… but that’s never stopped me before.

Perusing several lists of Canada’s most watched television shows of 2014 offered an insight into what we’ve become as a nation.

In fact, Canada doesn’t seem to rate very highly on the list of what Canada likes best.

Only one of Canada’s top 10 events was not a sporting event. Even worse: it was the Oscars (2nd most watched of the top 10).

Only two of Canada’s top 10 watched events prominently featured Canada – the Grey Cup (ranked 7th out of 10), and a Hockey Night in Canada special (8th) pitting the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Detroit (not even Canadian) Red Wings.

All the rest took place in the United States (Super Bowl, ranked 1st), Brazil (world cup soccer, 4th), and Russia (the Sochi Olympics, all of the rest of the top 10 entries).

Regular programing was even more depressing from a stalwart Canadian point of view.

While the top show was nominally Canadian, The Amazing Race Canada, is really just another of many barely disguised American baby brothers that have filled our viewing slots over the past decade or so. In this case the big brother is The Amazing Race – which clocked in at No. 9 on the same list.

Notably, all the other baby brothers, like Masterchef Canada, for instance, fail to fit into our national attention span ahead of their American forebears.

The rest of the top 10 general programming hits for 2014 were distinctly not Canadian – and in most cases offer an embarrassing picture of the collective Canadian viewing audience’s artistic and cultural literacy.

Following The Amazing Race Canada down the list is The Big Bang Theory, which admittedly started life as a prodigy for its first few seasons before sinking into a self-made mire of drone-attracting mediocrity.

Skipping the prodigy stage and heading straight into contrived blah are the next entries on the list, Gotham and The Flash.

No. 5 on the list, NCIS: New Orleans, is yet another vehicle to rehash some of the more popular plot lines used up in the early days of NCIS and reaffirmed by renewed enthusiasm in the subsequent NCIS: Los Angeles reincarnation.

Rounding out the top 10 depressing realities of network viewership in Canada through 2014 were How to Get Away with Murder, Masterchef, Survivor (true to its name, you have to wonder how that old chestnut has survived against all the odds its writers have stacked against itself), The Amazing Race, and Grey’s Anatomy (which admittedly was, once upon a time, a reasonably healthy option for those whose viewing habits lean towards an eventual heart attack).

For the most part, Canada’s national broadcasting company, the CBC, doesn’t figure prominently in any of the lists of top programming – except in the lists specifically dedicated to Canadian content.

Even in those lists, CBC tends to be chasing the pack comprised of the likes of CTV, TSN, and Global.

That begs some serious questioning, in light of the force of destruction being wreaked on our public broadcaster by the federal government.

Do Mr. Harper’s Conservatives have it right? Is the CBC a waste of time that is long past its Best Before date?

Or are their attacks finally showing some success?

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