|Posted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:14 pm Post subject: http://www.torontosun.com/2011/06/11/sun-news-network-shines
Sun News Network shines in prime time | Canada | News | Toronto Sun
It's been almost two months since Sun News Network first hit the airwaves delivering hard news by day and straight talk by night and network executives say it's surpassing expectations, especially in prime time.
On a typical night, Sun News' unapologetically Canadian and opinionated hosts Ezra Levant, David Akin, Theo Caldwell, Charles Adler and Brian Lilley draw an average of 25,400 viewers per minute, according to data collected by independent TV ratings agency BBM Canada.
"Our numbers are seriously beyond our expectations," said Luc Lavoie, head of development for Sun News.
This past Tuesday, Lilley's Byline, examining a number of Hollywood heavy-hitters' left-wing political agenda, picked up 51,000 viewers to beat out CTV News Channel with 37,000, BBM overnight captures showed.
Likewise, Akin's 6 p.m. broadcast of Daily Brief has beaten the CTV equivalent on a number of nights, Lavoie said.
The results come despite CTV's two-decade head start on Sun News, carriage in three million more homes and better dial placement, Lavoie said.
Quebecor, which owns Sun News, was forced to pull its broadcast from the Bell lineup after the cable provider refused its fee proposal, which charged less for Sun News than Bell's parent company BCE Inc. charges for its own networks including CTV News Channel, CP24 and Business News Network.
Sun News is piped into roughly 5.6 million households whereas CTV and CBC's 24-hour news channels are in 8.5 million and 10.6 million homes respectively.
"When you see the competition with that much larger distribution, when you beat them in real numbers, you are doing well," Lavoie said, adding carriage issues will be resolved in time.
Christopher Waddell, a business journalism professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, said more carriage agreements like the one Sun News has with Shaw Communications Inc. and Quebecor's Videotron Ltee. are crucial.
"The key to any specialty channel, whether it's all news or anything else, is how many people will subscribe," he said.
Lavoie's comments come after a string of recent reports by competitors highlighting average ratings that include low-traffic overnight hours.
"We are never at 7,000 viewers in prime time," Lavoie said referring to a recent column in the Globe and Mail.
In its first six weeks (from April 18 to May 30) and for all times of day, Sun News brought in on average 13,000 viewers per minute. That's more than BNN, one-third as many as CTV News Channel and 18% of the viewers CBC News Network did.
Twelve months after Fox News launched in the U.S. in the late 1990s, it had the same number of viewers Sun News has after just two months on-air.
"In a country with 10 times the population," Lavoie said, touching on the comparison wider media tends to make between Sun News and the right-leaning U.S. network, even though the two are not in any way affiliated.
Lavoie said the company is still fine-tuning Sun News and getting the equipment in place. Its satellite trucks hit the pavement for the first time just last week, due in part to delays for parts coming from earthquake and tsunami-ravaged Japan.
"At this point in time, we never expected we'd have the numbers like we do. We're doing extremely well and we are very, very proud of it," Lavoie said.