Canada’s Non-fiction Channel Ranker: A Snapshot of Discovery, History, Nat Geo and More…

What are the viewing levels for non-fiction channels in Canada?

  • It’s a good question to ask during Toronto’s Hot Docs Forum.
  • Or maybe not, as the Montreal Canadiens take a 1-0 series lead over the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
  • Whatever! This week: Canada’s Non-fiction Channel Ranker, and several Takeaways.

Protection Policy

  • US multi-channel affiliates dominate the non-fiction niche.
  • Though in their wisdom, Canada’s CRTC regulator limits US ownership of affiliates to 20%, and also enforces CanCon minimums to benefit local producers.
  • This twin mandate has sustained Canada’s non-fiction production sector.
  • The policy is the envy of say, Australia, where a comparable population has been ill-served by its politicians, and doesn’t deliver a similar steady volume of commissions for Aussie local producers, or create local equity plays in channels.

Canada’s Non-fiction Channel Ranker
Adults 25-54
Average Total Day, August 2013 – March 2014


Viewing Rank
History 40.567 1
Discovery 39.358 2
Nat Geo Channel 17.907 3
ID 9.039 4
H2 5.835 5
Animal Planet 5.428 6
Nat Geo Wild 3.778 7
Discovery Science 3.344 8
Oasis HD 2.807 9

And some other English-language channels for good measure:

TSN (Sports) 64.526
HGTV 29.079
Food Network 27.086
CBC News Network 16.463
OWN 8.11
diy network 5.239
Discovery World 1.814



Canadians who view factual channels basically watch what’s working in the US.

There are several notable exceptions:

  • Canada’s Worst Driver has been Discovery Canada’s #1 show for several seasons, averaging nearly 350,000 viewers (A25-54).
  • Driver crossed the line ahead of Gold Rush, Klondike and other hits that flow up the pipeline from Discovery’s HQ in Silver Spring MD.
  • History’s #2 after the scripted series Vikings was The Curse of Oak Island (300,000), well ahead of #3 Pawn Stars (238,000). Oak Island is a treasure-hunter series located in Nova Scotia.
  • The local Aftermath series came in as H2’s #3 ranked show (19,779).


Mugshots: Canada’s Worst Drivers

Discovery Canada comes in as a near dead-heat with History Canada:

We’ll cover Canada’s French-language channels soon.

Canadian Wildlife

  • Blue Ant Media‘s Oasis channel is a pure Wildlife play that is profitably although narrowly distributed on a pay tier.
  • Oasis out-ranks well-established non-fiction channels when it is offered ‘apples-to-apples’ as a free sampler.
  • There’s a lesson here for the many channel brands that have abandoned Natural History for the me-too middle-ground of talent-driven Reality.
  • Blue Ant, BTW is the Smithsonian Channel‘s Canadian partner.

NEW!…………………….SWEET SPOTS 2014………………………….NEW!
Production and Acquisition Cost Benchmarks for U.S. Factual Networks

  • What do 30+ US channels pay for programs?
  • For docs? And reality?
  • For Signature, Standard and ‘Bargain-basement?
  • Is our commissioning team paying more or less than the competition?
  • Do preferred producers earn a premium?
  • Does my pitch fall in the budget sweet spot for my target network?
  • Which programs are being promoted at the 2014 Upfronts?

We interview dozens of executives and producers to create a unique source of proprietary information about network budgets for commissions and copro’s.

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