CTV, CBC tangle over “Big Bang Night in Canada”

4 Comments

File this one under “you couldn’t make it up if you tried.”

Or maybe it should be “only in Canada.”

Regardless, here’s what happened:

In an effort to capitalize on the NHL lockout, the largest private broadcaster in Canada, CTV, decided to change its Saturday night programming – a night that’s typically dominated by CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada – to include a two-hour block of the sitcom The Big Bang Theory.

For marketing purposes, CTV (a subsidiary of Bell Media) chose to call this Big Bang Night in Canada.

This displeased CBC’s legal department, which sent a letter to CTV complaining that Big Bang Night in Canada would be “confusing” for Canadians and that it “reduced the esteem” of Hockey Night in Canada.

CTV, figuring it wasn’t worth the fight, acquiesced and – in what Deadspin termed a “delightfully catty press release” – announced it would change the name to Big Bang Night in Canada.

Apparently, reasonable viewers could consider encore hockey broadcasts “confusing” with the widely popular comedy series about four socially awkward scientists and their friends.

So, out of deep respect for the millions of viewers that CBC has alleged are “confused”, and in the spirit of the Lady Byng trophy, CTV today pledged that it will heed the request and rebrand its Saturday night programming as BIG BANG NIGHT ON CTV.

Hopefully, the move will prevent further “reducing the esteem” of CBC’s programming.

However, CTV will be forced to ramp up its promotional campaign for BIG BANG NIGHT ON CTV, tripling its on-air promotional resources to re-launch the block and prevent any supposed and unintentional “confusion.” A new on-air promo for the Saturday night lock was launched last night during THE BIG BANG THEORY, the most-watched 30 minutes on Canadian television.

Additionally, Bell Media has undertaken a review of its operations to ensure no additional potential “confusion” with CBC programming. Although similarities were found, Bell Media confirms it has no issue with CBC imitating its specialty channel ESPN Classic with the airing of classic hockey games on Saturday nights, as long as CBC is not concerned that viewers may interpret that Gretzky, Gilmour, and Lemieux have come out of retirement.

Bazinga.

Of note, it’s believed this was the first time the word “Bazinga” has ever been used in a press release.

To its credit, CBC conceded it may have overreacted.

“Admittedly, we’re very protective and proud of the HNIC brand but in this case, someone was over enthusiastic in responding — CBC has retracted the letter sent to Bell,” a spokesperson said.

In a related story, be sure to tune into The Voice on NBC.