CTV and CBC scrap over the use of “Night in Canada” logo
Dana Flavelle Business Reporter
As the first Saturday night without a National Hockey League game on TV looms, rival networks CTV and CBC got into a scrap over the use of the phrase “Night in Canada.”
It started when CTV issued a tongue-and-cheek press release early Friday saying it had agreed to stop using the phrase to promote an evening of The Big Bang Theory.
The private broadcaster had announced Sept. 18 it would put on four episodes of the popular sitcom about a group of nerds in a bid to capture part of the market normally devoted to CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.
CTV even dubbed the programming plan The Big Bang Theory Night in Canada.
But on Oct. 4, CTV received what it called a cease and desist letter from CBC.
A week later, CTV agreed to stop using the phrase but not without first razzing CBC over its beef about the potential for “brand confusion” in the eyes of consumers.
“Apparently, reasonable viewers could consider encore hockey broadcasts ‘confusing’ with the widely popular comedy series about four socially awkward scientists and their friends,” CTV said in a statement issued Friday.
Under the headline, “What’s The ‘Big’ Deal? CBC’s Saturday Night Confusion: Viewers Can’t Differentiate Hockey and Astrophysics,” the statement was widely circulated on twitter.
A few hours later, CBC said it had retracted the letter to CTV owner Bell Media.
“CBC is very proud and protective of the Hockey Night in Canada brand,” said Chuck Thompson, head of media relations for CBC. “However, in this case, someone was a little enthusiastic in responding.”
The spat comes amid an NHL lockout that threatens to hurt CBC revenues and has led to a pitched battle between the broadcasters for the hearts and minds of consumers and advertisers in what is a prime time viewing period.
CBC, which owns the broadcast rights to the NHL, is filling the slot with classic hockey games.
CTV is promoting an evening of what it says is Canada’s most popular TV show.
Last year, the first Hockey Night in Canada game drew 2.1 million viewers, according to ratings service BBM Canada. In comparison, that week’s new episode of The Big Bang Theory, which aired on a Tuesday, drew 3.6 million viewers.
For now, CTV says it’s sticking with its plans to change its promotional material to The Big Bang Theory Night on CTV.
The last minute change will “force” CTV to “triple” its on air promotion of the Big Bang series, the network also said.
CTV’s statement concluded with a phrase popularized by Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory’s star PhD holder and chief prankster: “Bazinga!”
It means “gotcha!”