Corus Entertainment’s ‘narrow and deep’ content strategy

BANFF ’22: EVP Colin Bohm spoke to the company’s long-term programming goals after the broadcaster laid out its programming priorities during a Sunday spotlight session, including more diversity in unscripted.

Corus Entertainment is looking for programming with built-in longevity, according to Colin Bohm, EVP, content and corporate strategy.

At the Banff World Media Festival (BANFF), Bohm (pictured) tells Playback Daily that the broadcaster’s commissioning slate has been “robust” the last two years following the months-long production shutdown due to COVID-19 and it is focused on building its lifestyle slate at Corus Studios.

“We’re trying to focus on building a program library that’s narrow and deep, as opposed to wide and thin,” says Bohm, pointing to the broadcaster’s long-running series such as Global’s Big Brother Canada, History’s Rust Valley Restorers and HGTV Canada’s Island of Bryan.

It’s the same approach Corus brings when commissioning new shows, says Bohm, citing greenlights such as the Global scripted drama Robyn Hood, History docuseries Dead Man’s Curse and HGTV Canada reality series Hoarder House Flippers.

Robyn Hood, created by Director X (aka Julien Christian Lutz), and produced and distributed by Boat Rocker Media, is set to begin production in Toronto and Hamilton on June 20. Jessye Romeo (Pennyworth) is slated to star as a modern-day Robin Hood who calls out injustices with a disguised anti-authoritarian hip-hop group, alongside Nykeem Provo (The Right One), Idrissa Sanogo (Titans) and Daniela Kharlamova (The Boys).

Bohm says the series appealed to Corus’ executive team due to its “edgier, younger” take on the Robin Hood legend, and how it pushes the envelope from Global’s past Canadian programs. “As much as we love Family Law, Departure and Private Eyes… [Robyn Hood is] a little bit of a push into some new genres and some new voices for us, which is really important.”

He adds that partnering with major studios such as Boat Rocker isn’t the only path to getting a greenlight from Corus. The broadcaster has looked at programs such as the Corus Writer’s Apprentice Training Program, held in collaboration with BANFF, as a way to help historically shut-out creatives gain experience in the broadcasting space, and hopefully get to a point where they can launch their own production companies.

For its established scripted programs on Global, such as Family Law and Departure, Bohm says Corus has had to be strategic on scheduling to give the series “the space that they need to really break through.” While the reduced pipeline from U.S. networks in previous years led to opportunities for both series to launch during the fall primetime schedule, season two of Departure will premiere on July 13, with the Family Law season two premiere to be announced at a later date.

Bohm appeared at a spotlight session about Corus’ programming strategy at BANFF on Sunday (June 12), alongside Nelvana head of development Athena Georgaklis; Krista Look, VP original lifestyle content; and Rachel Nelson, VP, original content, scripted, factual and kids.

The execs laid out some of their programming priorities, including more diversity in its unscripted offerings on specialties including History, HGTV Canada and Food Network; new talent around whom series concepts can be developed; and preschool and live-action content for Nelvana with more news around the company’s live-action slate expected to be announced in the coming months.

Photo by Kristian Bogner Photography