The JUNO Awards have completed the song and dance with Canada’s leading private television network CTV and in 2018 will return to the public broadcaster CBC.
Broadcast rights to the Junos were transferred from CBC to CTV for the 2002 gala and continued through 2017. Viewership for the 2002 affair, hosted by Barenaked Ladies in St. John’s, was 1.4 million. Viewership was up and down over the years, stadiums were filled, hosts were judged, and stage sets with light panels augmented live performances. The least viewed broadcast (under a million) during the CTV era was the 2007 JUNOs held in Saskatoon. The low numbers were blamed on a shared time slot with a special two-hour episode of The Amazing Race at perhaps the reality show’s peak of popularity. The most viewed JUNOs, at 2.4 million, was the 2011 gala in Toronto hosted by Drake.
Vancouver 2018 will mark the first JUNO Awards broadcast on CBC since the 2001 spectacle in Hamilton. That one was hosted by Rick Mercer. The main gala will take place March 25. The plan is for CBC to broadcast for at least the next six years.
In terms of why the switch was made, Allan Reid, president and CEO of the JUNOs and CARAS, says, “The switch happened because of a conversation we had a few months back about being more than just an awards show,” adding that there is a “real excitement about coming to CBC and taking CARAS, which is more than just the Juno Awards, and showing sort of the full range of what we do as an organization.”
The first televised JUNO Awards was broadcast on CBC in 1975.
Reid expresses the hope, through CBC, to showcase JUNO and Canadian music-related programming year-round, and that it would include underscoring some of the genres with which people are less familiar and which the JUNOs award, like Canadian classical, jazz and roots music.
The JUNOs leave CTV on good terms. The broadcaster did not drop the awards show; in fact, the parties discussed renewing the show’s contract before CARAS decided to go with CBC for a change.