Corus not making radical changes to lineup yet in wake of Shaw acquisition

TORONTO – Corus Entertainment (TSX:CJR.B) says it’s holding off on any radical programming changes as it continues to assess its inventory of specialty channels bolstered by the acquisition of Shaw Media.

On Thursday, Corus unveiled details of its first new prime-time lineups since it announced plans in January to buy Shaw Media, a business merger that created a portfolio of 45 specialty channels, on top of the Global TV network.

Corus executives said they’re trying to figure out how to make channels that once competed now co-operate and complement each other.

But Corus is taking “a measured approach” to such changes, looking for “permission” from viewers to move stuff around.

“Nothing’s going to drop off for this immediate future,” said Barb Williams, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Corus.

“We also were really conscious of not leaping too fast into making big decisions.”

Despite owning so many channels, Corus said the impact of so-called skinny basic cable packages and pick-and-pay options are “relatively de minimis, at the moment.”

“The good news is, we’ve not seen a lot of changes out there,” said Doug Murphy, president and CEO of Corus Entertainment.

“We like our shape in the pick-and-pay world,” he added, noting they have strong brands. “We’re not overly concerned about it.”

One programming change of note for Corus is the move of “Supergirl” from Global to Showcase, which was inspired by CBS’ decision to take it off the main network and put it on the CW, said Williams.

“We really felt, looking forward, it could really help to drive the female audience on a key network like Showcase.”

Also set for Showcase is the Vancouver-shot time-travelling sci-fi series “Travelers,” starring Canadians Eric McCormack, MacKenzie Porter and Patrick Gilmore.

“There was a period where Canadian shows were trying to be a Canadian version of an American show,” said McCormack. “There’s no reason to stick to the mould, because the moulds are getting old down there (in L.A.).

“A show like this is created by a Canadian and not based on some successful American show. This will be unique.”

Highlights of the 2016/17 prime-time schedule on Global include “Pitch,” starring Montreal’s Kylie Bunbury as a young pitcher who becomes the first woman to play Major League Baseball. Co-stars include Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Mark Consuelos and Ali Larter.

“As an actor, this type of role is the role that you dream of,” said Bunbury. “It’s a role that you get to send a message.

“I’m not playing something that doesn’t matter. This matters and I’m just really grateful for that.”

Former “NCIS” star Michael Weatherly is in “Bull,” which is inspired by the early career of daytime talk-show star Dr. Phil McGraw, although it’s not a depiction of him.

“MacGyver” is a reimagining of the 1980s series, starring Lucas Till as a 20-something who uses unique problem-solving skills to saves lives in a clandestine organization within the U.S. government.

New comedies include “Kevin Can Wait” starring Kevin James as a retiree, “Man With a Plan” starring Matt LeBlanc as a stay-at-home-dad, the afterlife-set “The Good Place” with Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, and Joel McHale’s millennial office ensemble “The Great Indoors.”

Other series include the fourth instalment of the Chicago franchise, “Chicago Justice,” and the “Blacklist” spin-off “The Blacklist: Redemption,” starring Ryan Eggold and Famke Janssen.

Williams said Corus is also “in the game” when it comes to competing to get the much-anticipated new “Star Trek” series from CBS.

Returning series include “Big Brother Canada,” “Madam Secretary,” “Elementary,” “Survivor,” “Hawaii Five-O,” and “The Simpsons.”