Taking its cue from the continued popularity of On Demand services, an innovative startup called Alltime TV is launching a new set of programming for the watch-now, on-demand crowd. It's pay-per-episode cable, but that's not all this new broadcaster has got up its sleeve.
Alltime has taken the extraordinary step of hiring a number of Canada's embattled or disgraced politicians -- including Patrick Brazeau and the Ford brothers -- as political pundits, reality stars and actors in a move to capture the disgruntled cable viewers that make up much of Canada's television consumerscape.
"Alltime's innovative production model makes use of the time that these politicians have available to them while they are unable to perform, or are not performing their civic duties," said director of Alltime TV marketing Allie McMasterson.
Programming will be in production through the summer months with an all-program launch planned for August. The company believes its productions have an advantage over other programming in the digital marketplace.
"Name recognition is very important to new TV programs, and I think the talent we've recruited is both remarkable and familiar to Canadian audiences," continued McMasterson. "The disgraced politician is an underused resource, which is widely available in Canada. Alltime is in the right place at the right time to create dynamic, host-driven content."
Alltime productions meet a company-wide made-in-Canada programming quota that surpasses Canadian content regulations in music, production and on-air staff, which will include Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, Patrick Brazeau and Rob and Doug Ford.
But it's possible that this on-air lineup could present challenges to Canadian tastes, but Alltime believes our Northern market is ready for what they're producing.
"There's no reason why Canada can't turn the shameful behaviour of our civic representative into television programming. They've been doing it in the United States for years," asserted McMasterson.
Senators Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy are the core of the Alltime schedule, providing opinion and current affairs programming, said McMasterson as she outlined the first season's program lineup.
"As our most experienced broadcasters, Wallin and Duffy will be speaking from a number of locations across Canada throughout the season. The challenge for Alltime was deciding where to set their program. It was a real chance to give the impression of national coverage, especially when we realized that it didn't really matter where they actually were as they worked -- green screen technology could provide any appropriate backdrop."
Rob and Doug Ford presented a chance for real experimentation with production techniques, said McMasterson. For Alltime, the pair will star in a reality series that uses a radical production technique -- exclusively crowd-sourced video.
"The brothers have experience on the radio, but their television debut was cut short by the demands of studio recording," said McMasterson. "We know the public has an appetite for watching these two do their thing. It's sure to 'entertain.'"
Senator Patrick Brazeau's offering is intended for late-night viewing on the pick-and-choose network, although as McMasterson emphasized, this new set of programs is available at any time of day for anyone who is willing to pay per-program.
Alltime would not comment on the planned cost of each program, but did say that viewers who shunned other digital television options might feel that the network had saved them over a billion dollars. That said, she anticipated difficulty monitoring that, as the accounts were still being put in order and some emails might have been deleted.
Like any new initiative, Alltime has its critics, who point to Sun TV's cancellation of Rob and Doug Ford's talk show after a single episode, as a sign that the company is doomed to fail. Many also voice doubts that Alltime's disgraced politician model can sustain the novelty needed to keep viewers coming back and paying micro-fees each time they want to view a program.
McMasterson emphasized Canada's wealth of disgraced politicians over the last few years, and speaking frankly about the challenges of recruiting talent to Alltime. She added that Alltime had made overtures to former Montreal Mayor Gérard Tremblay, who would not agree that he fit the Alltime model.
Despite these challenges, Alltime employees seem confident. Sources within Alltime say the project is going strong, with new program ideas emerging every few weeks.
"Rumor on set is that a home renovation show is in the works for former Alberta Premier Allison Redford, and I've seen a few drafts of a sitcom script that seems to be set in a campaign office in Etobicoke although I hear they're recruiting someone in Ottawa to play the male lead in that one," speculated best boy three, who asked that her name not be revealed.
image: flickr/Kevin Simpson
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