CBC, Rogers Media to share Mr. D and Young Drunk Punk (exclusive)

After partnering to keep Hockey Night in Canada on CBC, both networks have carved out exclusive windows for season four of the Gerry Dee-starrer and the rookie Bruce McCulloch chuckler.
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Rogers Media earlier this year surprised everyone when it unveiled a blockbuster rights deal with the NHL that included a four-year sub-licensing deal to keep Hockey Night in Canada on the CBC.

It turns out that collaboration between Rogers and the CBC wasn’t a one-off.

In another windowing deal, this time for scripted comedies, the fourth season of Mr. D will debut on the CBC in January, before City airs the Gerry Dee-starring chuckler in fall 2015.

And the reciprocal deal will also see City premiere its upcoming comedy Young Drunk Punk, which Rogers developed and commissioned, also in January.

The CBC will then get an exclusive window to air Young Drunk Punk when it becomes available in fall 2015.

“Both broadcasters at very senior levels felt that around the time of the NHL partnership how can we partner on other things and look at other opportunities and test other types of programming, knowing that the marketplace is changing and we are all trying to produce the best content and don’t always have all the resources to do so,” Nataline Rodrigues, director of original programming at Rogers Media, told Playback Daily about the unusual windowing pact.

Rogers Media president Keith Pelley and CBC executive director Heather Conway, new into the post, also mused openly about collaboration between the two networks during the Content Industry Connect conference in March 2014, at which they both appeared together on a panel.

“So here’s an opportunity to strike a partnership and test something out over and above hockey,” Rodrigues added.

Despite lauding the sports-to-scripted series sharing deal between the CBC and Rogers Media, and the opportunity to broaden the audience for Mr. D and Young Drunk Punk, CBC senior director of comedy Michelle Daly added there’s no fixed template for their collaboration.

“It will depend on the projects that come forward,” Daly, who controls the CBC’s comedy slate, including Mr. D, said.

That means no one is talking first-look or co-production deals just yet.

“If we feel that it’s a project that works for both of us, and there’s a way for us to partner on it in a way that benefits both broadcasters and the producers themselves, I think we’re just keeping the door open right now,” Daly said.

Rodrigues agreed the networks managed to share Mr. D and Young Drunk Punk, but ultimately it depends on the creative behind scripted series now in the works.

“We have a good working relationship, and we’re in constant communication,” she added.

The landmark windowing deal has other motivations, besides bottom line needs to share resources.

Rodrigues, who commissioned and developed Young Drunk Punk, came to City from the CBC.

And Young Drunk Punk comes from Bruce McCulloch, who made a name on the CBC’s Kids in the Hall sketch comedy series, a known quantity at the pubcaster.

That said, comedy is different from hockey when it comes to network partnerships in that it depends on a creative sensibility, rather than live play-by-play action, to hook audiences.

Mr. D, now in its fourth season, already has its DNA established, leaving City little to do on the series beyond introducing the comedy to its younger-skewing audience, compared to an older audience tuning into the CBC.

“There isn’t as much room to put our creative thumbprint on it (Mr. D),” Rodrigues said.

For Young Drunk Punk, the CBC brings another set of eyes to a new show with a rookie season ahead of it.

“Obviously, you have to create [first seasons] from scratch and that can be quite challenging and that requires a lot of care and time, and having good partners makes all the difference,” Rodrigues said.