Like other media organizations, CBC/Radio-Canada has faced unprecedented disruption in the communications and media industries. In 2014, we launched our five-year strategic plan Strategy 2020: A Space for Us All (Strategy 2020) to address our many challenges and opportunities, and strengthen the public broadcaster for the digital age.
It came at a critical time in our evolution. It was designed to transform the organization and put us on sound financial footing. It has been an important step in making us more nimble, more reflective of our communities, and more interactive and engaged with Canadians.
Our plan included three core priorities:
- Become a digital-first organization
- Create more distinctive quality Canadian content for all Canadians
- Become more local to better serve communities
We developed clear, public performance measurements to track and assess the perception of our performance by Canadians, and how we are meeting the corporate-wide objectives of our strategic plan. Our focus on measuring our results demonstrates our accountability to Canadians. Our investments are closely tied to specific performance indicators in a range of areas that have shaped our transformation.
More Digital Than Ever Before
Today, we are becoming a digital-first organization. Canadians don’t just watch and listen to programs any more, they engage directly through comment and social media and they share across multiple platforms.
These behaviour shifts have disrupted existing media business models and fuelled the success of global technology platforms such as Google, YouTube and Facebook – platforms that have also allowed CBC/Radio-Canada to expand our reach and introduce our content to a broader audience.
But while Canadians have access to more information than at any time in history, much of it is now curated by a small number of companies, that are using sophisticated data analytic capabilities and broad platforms of influence to meet – and shape – the demands of their audiences.
These global technology companies are the new gatekeepers of content.
In the face of these realities, CBC/Radio-Canada has focused on maintaining, expanding and improving our own strong, successful Canadian-owned and operated multiplatform service, with a direct connection to Canadians.
We have also focused on digital innovation, bringing new, creative approaches to strengthen what we offer Canadians. Radio-Canada realized the potential of "over the top" (OTT) capabilities early on, launching Tou.TV in 2010 and Tou.TVextra in 2014, both of which have found a strong subscriber base. CBC Music, launched in 2012 after more than a year spent securing unprecedented online licensing deals with nearly 1,000 major and independent labels, was a Canadian music streaming pioneer. This year, Radio-Canada launched Première PLUS, which was recognized for its ground-breaking approach to thematic discovery of digital audio content, giving users access to a world of original content, available anywhere, anytime. CBC Radio is the Canadian leader in podcasting, with its podcasts being downloaded 1.7 million times per week. Vote Compass has brought a unique and innovative digital political experience to millions of Canadians, and has been used successfully in both federal and provincial elections since 2011. Similarly, our acclaimed election tracker feature brought Canadians an opportunity for a detailed and personalised view of the results across the country and close to home.
And we are constantly adapting to new technologies and emerging media formats through our in-house innovation incubators such as Accelérateur d’idées, focused on digital innovation and our new initiative "Prochaine Génération" which is helping define the next generation of news and current affairs programming.
Our digital efforts are paying off.
We now reach over 16 million Canadian users each month through our own desktop, mobile and native apps. This is 2.5 million more than in 2015, and 4 million more than in 2014, when we launched Strategy 2020. We are closing in on our goal of 18 million monthly Canadian users by 2020.
Our digital reach in Canada now consistently rivals some of the best-known digital companies in the world such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft.
Perhaps most significantly, CBC/Radio-Canada is using these digital services to engage audiences across all age groups and demographics. We are reaching 60 per cent of online millennials each month, and we're the top digital news/information source for Canadian millennials.
We are more digital than ever before and we have no intention of slowing down – because we are responding to what our audiences want.
More Quality Canadian Content
We are also focused on creating more quality Canadian content than ever before – to inform, entertain and bring Canadians together.
News & Current Affairs
CBC/Radio-Canada's news teams provide citizens with the information they need to make informed choices in their lives and to understand themselves relative to their communities, their country and the world. We address national issues of concern and engage citizens in conversations about these issues – like the future of their health system or our country's response to climate change.
Through our network of foreign correspondents and journalists on special assignment, CBC/Radio-Canada also provides Canadians with a unique and firsthand window to the world. Our correspondents have been with the refugees as they trek towards Europe, on the ground in Syria to bear witness to the plight of its people and in America's rustbelt towns to understand the political dynamics at play in the U.S. election.
Our current affairs teams bring Canadians the stories that matter most, leading conversations that challenge and provoke debate, reflect the diversity and complexity of Canadian society, and encourage democratic engagement. These include stories such as Metro Morning's reporting on the practise of "Carding" and our Thunder Bay news team's report on the funding gap faced by First Nations schools.
Our investigative journalism shines a light on issues that raise our collective consciousness and often motivates action.
Radio-Canada’s signature program Enquête has become an icon of investigative journalism in this country. Its work on corruption in the Québec construction industry led to the Charbonneau Commission. Its stories on the alleged abuse of Indigenous women at the hands of the police won the highest journalism award for public service journalism – The Michener Award.
Our Indigenous Unit's recent work around the unsolved cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women drew out the human dimension behind each story, creating content for all of our platforms, including interactive digital sites for each missing woman. It shaped people’s understanding of this national tragedy, but it also brought new insight to the investigations for the RCMP. We are now deepening the impact of this work with a virtual reality documentary through our award winning radio program The Current which is taking this virtual reality experience across Canada with five town hall discussions.
Our journalists collaborate with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on important international stories like the "Panama Papers," which uncovered a concerted effort by some companies and individuals to move money offshore and avoid paying taxes.
Through our excellent work in these areas, we continue to be one of Canada’s most trusted and influential news brands.
Our popular and uniquely Canadian entertainment programming draws audiences from across the country.
Radio-Canada’s comedy programs – Les pêcheurs and Infoman – and drama series – Unité 9, Les Pays D’en Haut, as well as the recently launched District 31 – have attracted massive audiences at a time when even the French market is showing signs of decline in viewership for Canadian programming. When Radio-Canada launched its new programs in September, five of the top ten most-watched French programs in Canada that week were ours. Radio-Canada places a special emphasis on supporting and promoting French Canadian creators and artists, which in turn ensures we appeal to our audience.
CBC's distinctly Canadian offerings, including Kim's Convenience, Murdoch Mysteries, Schitt's Creek, Still Standing, Heartland, and more, stand apart from the largely American or American-format content offered by other Canadian broadcasters. CBC takes special pride in providing a home for Canadian comedy and satire, such as The Rick Mercer Report, This Hour Has 22 Minutes and the recently launched Baroness von Sketch, comedy that is deeply cultural and connects Canadians in unique ways.
Programming that brings Canadians together
Our work connects, inspires and gathers Canadians around important Canadian moments.
During the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio, we brought Canadians the stories and achievements of their athletes. These were the most-watched Summer Games in Canadian history, with over 32 million Canadians experiencing the Olympic Games and 10 million the Paralympic Games. They engaged with us through television, radio and apps, as well as through our presence on broader technology platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
We united Canadians around the historic and emotional celebration of The Tragically Hip, Canada's unofficial poet laureates. For nearly three hours on a summer Saturday night, almost 12 million Canadians at home and around the world paused to pay tribute together. They gathered around screens and radios and at hundreds of public viewing events in theatres, parks and pubs. The Tragically Hip: A National Celebration was broadcast nationally and streamed live and commercial-free across all CBC radio, television and digital platforms. Few shared national experiences have carried the weight and impact of this event.
Last December, Radio-Canada's iconic gathering – Bye, Bye, (one of the most anticipated annual shows in French Canada that bids the year farewell) – was watched by nearly 90 per cent of all francophones watching TV that night – something it does year over year. Similarly, for 13 years, Radio-Canada's wildly popular Tout le monde en parle has ignited passionate conversations, drawing a third of all francophone Canadians watching TV on Sunday.
CBC/Radio-Canada has made a significant investment in showcasing signature events like The Gillers, The Canadian Screen Awards, les prix Gémeaux, le Gala de l’ADISQ, Canada Day and the Country Music Awards. Over the years, we also created a number of original events that have become important and ongoing contributors to recognizing Canadian talent, events like Canada Reads, our CBC Music Festival and Searchlight, our national talent competition for musicians. CBC/Radio-Canada’s role in discovering and developing musical talent is critical to meeting the interests of our varied audience. Radio-Canada’s annual contest Révélations has launched many musical careers, including artists such as Karim Ouellet, Lisa Leblanc, Louis-Jean Cormier and Charles Richard-Hamelin. Our Polaris Music Prize, a partnership between CBC Music and Blue Ant Media, celebrates the top 10 musical artists across the country every year.
We are also planning a range of inspiring programming to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary next year.
Our efforts to make these important Canadian moments available to all Canadians, across multiple platforms, are yielding results. Our performance measurements show that we are reaching more Canadians on more platforms with content that is more relevant to them. We are evolving with Canadians, connecting with them in new ways, with a unique Canadian offering that is resonating.
More Local than Ever Before
Today, CBC/Radio-Canada reaches communities across the country through our 88 radio stations, 27 television stations and 41 regional websites. We share local news, shine a light on local cultural and creative industries, and contribute to local economies.
Our established presence across the country, and our ongoing focus on digital, provides a remarkable platform to share the voices, issues and ideas that reflect Canada’s unique communities. This is particularly true in official language minority communities where we are important amplifiers for language and culture. We are strengthening that commitment. Radio-Canada has recently created two national reporter positions in Alberta and Acadia to share local news across Canada's francophone communities.
As part of our "digital and mobile platforms first" approach to creating and sharing content, we now offer 18 hours of continuously updated digital local news each day.
Our local coverage is often compelling and powerful, connecting with Canadians across the country. A good example is our coverage of the fires in Fort McMurray, which received 20 million page views on our website. Another is CBC Halifax’s ongoing coverage of a Syrian refugee family’s journey in Canada. From the time they landed at the Halifax airport, to settling in Yarmouth and opening up a chocolate shop, to donating a portion of their sales to the relief efforts in Fort McMurray, we have connected Canadians to their experience. In September of this year, in a speech at the United Nations, this family was recognized as a symbol of what Canada represents.
The world is starting to notice Canada. Today, as large global news organizations are using their size and strong global brand to set up "outposts" in Canada in an effort to grab audiences and advertising revenues, our local presence is more important than ever. Our teams live in these communities. They know these communities. They are personally connected to the stories and issues that are driving local conversations. They care about what happens.
As part of prioritizing "local", we are also transforming our local stations – from Halifax to Rimouski, to Matane, to Sudbury, to Moncton – so that our teams have the technological tools to support the great work they do. When we had the inaugural opening of our new station in Moncton last September, over 2,500 people showed up to celebrate with us.
We are proud of the talent, creativity and commitment of our CBC/Radio-Canada employees who have helped to transform our organization during the last few years. We cherish our privileged role in working directly with almost 400 Canadian independent producers, as well as artists and creators across the country to create incredible Canadian content together.
Their work is delivering value to Canadians.
But we are already looking to the future, imagining the potential of Canada's public broadcaster and considering how we need to evolve to best meet Canadians' need for a vital, relevant public broadcaster in a sector where no one seems to be able to predict the future.