CTV and CBC spar over Big Bang branding

October 12, 2012  |  Alicia Androich  |  Comments

It’s not every day you read a release that ends with a jab at a fellow media player using the term “bazinga.”

The Bell Media-owned CTV issued a press release with a decidedly tongue-in-cheek tone on Friday after CBC took issue with some branding it found too similar to the iconic Hockey Night in Canada name.

The cheeky release stems from “a strongly worded legal directive” — as CTV calls it — that CBC issued Oct. 4. According to a CTV spokesperson, it was technically a cease and desist letter. In it, the CBC asked CTV to stop promotion for a programming block it called “Big Bang Night in Canada,” a two-hour slot The Big Bang Theory set to begin Oct. 13.

CBC expressed concern that such branding could be mistakenly associated with CBC’s “Hockey Night In Canada.”

CTV originally announced Big Bang Night in Canada on Sept. 18 — just days after the NHL lockout started on Sept. 15. In a release, it called the programming an “all-new The Big Bang Theory stunt block aims squarely at Canada’s millions of despondent hockey fans.”

“While we disagree with the CBC’s position, in the spirit of sportsmanship, we decided the easiest course of action was to rebrand the block,” a CTV spokesperson told Marketing.

If the headline of the release—“What’s The “Big” Deal? CBC’s Saturday Night Confusion: Viewers Can’t Differentiate Hockey and Astrophysics”—wasn’t clear enough about CTV’s take on the letter, content in the release itself certainly was.

One part of CTV’s response says, “Apparently, reasonable viewers could consider encore hockey broadcasts ‘confusing’ with the widely popular comedy series about four socially awkward scientists and their friends.”

Elsewhere, it says “out of deep respect for the millions of viewers that CBC has alleged are “confused,” and in the spirit of the Lady Byng trophy, CTV today pledged that it will heed the request and rebrand its Saturday night programming as Big Bang Night on CTV.”

Why did CTV choose to go cheeky with the release? “You want to have fun, it’s a comedy, it’s The Big Bang Theory; we just wanted to try and be a bit more witty,” said the spokesperson.

It also mentions that CTV will be “forced to ramp up its promotional campaign for Big Bang Night on CTV, tripling its on-air promotional resources to re-launch the block and prevent any supposed and unintentional ‘confusion.’”

The last part of Friday’s CTV release makes light of any possible further programming mix-ups between the two companies. “Bell Media confirms it has no issue with CBC imitating its specialty channel ESPN Classic with the airing of classic hockey games on Saturday nights, as long as CBC is not concerned that viewers may interpret that Gretzky, Gilmour, and Lemieux have come out of retirement,” says the release.

Late Friday, CBC retracted its letter.

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