CBS Plans Production Hub in Canada to Satisfy Demands of Peak TV

(Bloomberg) -- “America’s Most Watched Network’’ is opening up shop in Canada.

CBS Corp. leased 260,000 square feet (24,000 square meters) outside of Toronto to serve as its base in a burgeoning hub of film and TV production. The space, including six sound stages, offices and support facilities, is the largest studio opened by a U.S. broadcaster north of the border.

Though primarily known as a broadcast network, CBS is expanding into Canada to support its growing output of shows, including “NCIS’’ and “Madam Secretary’’ for CBS, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’’ for the CW and “American Vandal’’ for Netflix. CBS Television Studios is producing 63 shows in all.

The company ranks as one of the world’s biggest producers of TV programming at a time when demand for new shows has never been higher. The U.S. TV industry will crank out more than 500 original scripted series this year, according to research from FX.

CBS already shoots a handful of productions in Canada, including “Star Trek: Discovery,’’ the latest installment of the popular science-fiction franchise. The new studio in Mississauga is expected to open in mid-2019.

“CBS has a strong production history in Canada,” said David Stapf, president of CBS Television Studios. “The Toronto area specifically has provided our series with diverse and appealing locations, as well as production infrastructure and crafts expertise that cannot be easily found. These new stages will provide valuable resources and additional capacity for our company’s growing production slate.”

Studio space in Toronto, totaling about 2.2 million square feet, is stretched, according to real estate research firm Altus Group Ltd. TV and film production jumped 10 percent to a record C$2.98 billion ($2.3 billion) in Ontario in the year to March 2017, and 42 percent to C$2.99 billion in British Columbia, according to the Canadian Media Producers Association.

Local and provincial officials are working with CBS to secure the necessary permits and draw up the plans for the facility.

“Productions in Canada support the development of local talent and provide good middle-class jobs for tens of thousands of Canadians,” said Simon Ross, a spokesman for the ministry of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism. “This proposed investment is a vote of confidence in the world-class abilities of our artists and creators. We will continue to support this important industry so that our creators can continue to succeed on the world stage.”

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