CTV's "Big Bang" hockey promo goes out with a whimper, bowing to CBC's demand to cool it
October 12, 2012
TORONTO - In the interest of “confused” hockey fans across the nation, CTV says its freezing plans to run its new promo campaign for TV show The Big Bang Theory.
CTV says it has agreed to the CBC’s request that it cease all promotion and publicity for its broadcast plans for Big Bang Night in Canada as previously reported by Cartt.ca. The promotion highlighted its plans to run a two-hour block featuring back-to-back episodes of The Big Bang Theory, Saturdays from 8-10 p.m. ET/PT beginning October 13.
CTV said the shows were “aimed squarely at the millions of hockey fans coast-to-coast-to-coast” to provide a weekly “distraction from despair.”
But in a strongly worded legal directive, the CBC accused CTV’s branding of being “confusing” to viewers with respect to their trademark for “Hockey Night in Canada.” “We take this matter very seriously,” stated the CBC letter, according to CTV. (Late on Friday the CBC retracted the letter admitting that "someone was overzealous in responding").
The CBC apparently was concerned the promo would confuse viewers of its current “classic” NHL games on Hockey Night in Canada format with the 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,” said the CTV in a statement.
It added “Hopefully, the move will prevent further ‘reducing the esteem’ of CBC’s programming.”
CTV says that it will now be “forced to ramp up its promotional campaign” for Big Bang Night on CTV by tripling its on-air promotional resources to re-launch the block and prevent any supposed and unintentional “confusion.”
It added that 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.”
(Editor’s note: CTV has not confirmed if it now intends to invite back Alex Trebek to air old episodes of Stars on Ice on Saturday nights.)