White Pine Pictures has sold CBC police procedural Cracked to the U.S. and France, in one of several recent overseas deals that highlight the improved fortunes of Canadian television production.
Canadian programs such as Bomb Girls, which is seen in Italy, the Netherlands and the U.S., and Republic of Doyle, which is licensed in 95 countries, are finding success in international markets.
Cracked, which follows a Toronto police detective working in a Psych Crimes unit who has mental health issues himself, has been sold to U.S. cable and satellite network ReelzChannel, after attracting an average of 750,000 viewers per episode since its debut in January, according to a White Pine Pictures press release.
Cracked also has been sold to popular French broadcaster Groupe Canal+ and companion French Pay TV Channel 13ème Rue Universal / NBCU, in what the producers say is one of the largest broadcast licence fees ever paid in Europe for an all-Canadian TV production. Dollar figures were not released.
The sale comes as Canadian television production is on an upswing. Domestic production hit 10-year high in 2011-12, according to Jean-Pierre Blais, chair of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
In a recent speech to TV industry professionals in Ottawa, Blais attributed the big boost in production to new rules the CRTC put in place in 2011/12 during network licence renewals.
The federal regulator now forces big media groups such as Bell Media, Shaw and Rogers to spend 30 per cent of their revenue on Canadian programming. The private sector networks collectively had revenue of $5.8 billion in 2011.
The big four media groups— Rogers Media, Bell Media, Corus Entertainment and Shaw Media – are projected to spend as much as $3 billion on Canadian programming of all kinds in 2013, according to a report from the Canadian Media Production Association.
Profile 2012: An Economic Report on the Screen-based Production Industry in Canada estimates Canadian production in 2011-12 expanded 21.3 per cent to $2.58 billion.
In the production centres of Halifax, Toronto and Vancouver, that has meant more jobs in a booming industry.
In the past year and a half, money has flowed into English-language lifestyle and drama programs as the private networks moved away from reality TV. And there were bigger budgets for dramatic programming — an average of $1.5 million per hour for English fiction — according to the CMPA report.
The U.S.-based Syfy network renewed its contract for a second season of Vancouver-shot series Continuum last week – Syfy also runs Canadian series Lost Girl and the Canadian-shot version of Being Human in primetime.
While CTV’s long-running Flashpoint was a U.S. co-production, an increasing number of Canadian dramas have found success at home, then sought out international markets. CBC’s family show Heartland is seen in 119 countries and Murdoch Mysteries in 100 countries.
International buyers are recognizing the higher quality of Canadian TV series and that has led to more deals for Canadian programs, which earned a total of $440 million in international sales in 2011-12.