City will no longer carry Empire when the hip hop soap opera returns from hiatus on March 30. Instead, new episodes of the show’s sophomore season will be made available on Shomi, within 24-hours after its broadcast on Fox.
While the series has been a ratings success in the U.S., it has failed to crack the Canadian Top 30 programs according to data compiled by Numeris. “It wasn’t getting the audiences we needed,” said Hayden Mindell, City’s vice president of TV programming and content in an interview with The Canadian Press on Tuesday (Feb. 23). Instead, Rogers (which owns City) has given rights to the second season to Canadian streaming service Shomi — which Rogers co-owns with Shaw Media.
Empire underperforming shouldn’t come as a big surprise to those who pay attentions to City’s marketing and promotional campaigns as the NHL broadcasts have been the company’s main promotional priority. Many Canadian viewers weren’t even aware that City aired Empire in pre-release — an hour early than Fox’s 9 p.m. airing — which could have resulted in the majority of the viewers watching it on the American network.
While Empire may not have generated the same buzz for City as the series did for Fox, Rogers is quite happy with the way the first season performed on Shomi. “It performs exceptionally well for us,” said Marni Shulman, head of Shomi’s content and programming in the same interview with The Canadian Press. The first season of the series has ranked among Shomi’s 10 most-watched shows.
City has also ditched Scandal, with Netflix picking up streaming rights in Canada.
While diverse programs have become popular in the U.S., Canadian networks aren’t paying as much attention to them as they should. Fresh Off the Boat landed on Shomi last summer, as did Jane the Virgin. City didn’t even make room for Empire on it’s schedule last season and regulated it to their Omni channel — yes, a multicultural network.
Given proper promotion, it is possible for a show with a diverse cast to succeed in Canada. Take CTV’s Quantico as an example which has Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra as the lead. CTV boasts that the acquisition from ABC is Canada’s number one new series.
So now while Rogers scrambles to get Canadians to tune in to the upcoming NHL playoffs which probably won’t feature Canadian team, fans of Empire can catch it on American network Fox or stream it on Shomi the next day.