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The "YTV" moniker was originally thought by some viewers to be an abbreviation for "Youth Television"; however, the channel's website has denied this, despite the fact that the network originally branded itself as a youth network at launch.
The channel was licensed by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in 1987. Launched on September 1, 1988, at 7:00 p.m. EST with a preview special by John Candy, YTV was the successor to two prior special programming services operated by various Ontario cable companies beginning in the late 1970s. The two largest shareholders in YTV were two cable companies, Rogers Cable and CUC Broadcasting, which was later acquired by Shaw Communications. By 1995, through various acquisitions and trades, Shaw had secured full control of YTV; it was spun off as part of Corus Entertainment in 1999. The channel continues to be owned by YTV Canada (used for YTV and its sister network Treehouse TV), now wholly owned by Corus Entertainment under its Corus Kids division.
In 1998, YTV began to use a Nickelodeon-style "gross-out" factor in its branding, with much less slime, and began using the slogan "Keep It Weird". Over the years, YTV used a number of different on-air logos, featuring the same arrangement of white letters on various bizarre and imaginative creatures. The logo used on production credits features this arrangement on a red screen of a stylized purple television set.
Two Corus specialty channel applications for YTV extensions, YTV POW!, an internationally sourced kids' action, adventure and superhero genre, and YTV OneWorld, targeting children from age 6 to 17 with travel, humour, games, and STEM were approved on September 18, 2008. The YTV Oneworld license was used to launch Nickelodeon Canada.
In the fall of 2005, a new post-6:00 p.m. advertising style was developed for older audiences, which used a much simpler logo and sleeker packaging with reduced gross-out tactics. In the spring of 2006, the simple logo first appeared on YTV's promos and even appeared on credits of newer original programming. In 2007, this look was adopted for the entire channel. In September 2009, the logo was changed slightly: it featured new colours, and the background was simplified. Variations to the bumpers were reduced. Instead, there are large, opaque digital on-screen graphics telling viewers which programs are coming next, and promotions of the programs. In September 2012, the logo was changed aesthetically.
On October 6, 2014, the channel underwent a brand refresh, with new graphics and bumps created by Eloisa Iturbe Studio. In addition, the channel updated its logo by having it face upwards to the left instead of directly to the audience.
Programs of note
In its early years, YTV filled its schedule with obscure acquired programs. British sitcoms were used to fill prime time slots, and remained on the channel's late night schedule for well over a decade, including the North American premiere of Red Dwarf and the improv TV series Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Programs such as Are You Being Served?, Keeping Up Appearances, and Yes Minister were broadcast in late night time slots, and aired free of time and content edits. However, in 2003 when YTV began marketing its late night hours towards older youth viewers, it decided to remove the remaining shows from the schedule.
In 1993, YTV obtained the Canadian broadcast rights to the action-adventure series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which aired weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings on the channel, trailing the American broadcast by several months. However, complaints were sent to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council about the violent content, and YTV was pressured to remove the series from its lineup. Although not a member of the CBSC board, YTV complied and pulled the series before the end of its first season.
Even though commercials for Power Rangers toys and videos were shown on YTV, Fox became the primary broadcaster of the series in Canada. Through its program distribution agreement with Nickelodeon U.S., the Power Rangers franchise began airing on YTV's sister channel Nickelodeon Canada with the debut of Power Rangers Samurai; that series later began airing on YTV on May 7, 2011, effectively bringing the franchise back to the channel that had previously barred it.
In fall 2014, following both Corus Entertainment's full acquisition of the TELETOON Canada Inc. networks and YTV's addition of select Teletoon programming, the Power Rangers franchise moved to Teletoon.
YTV's broadcast continued even after Buffy the Vampire Slayer moved to UPN in the United States, not only making the U.S. broadcast more widely available in Canada, but also gradually leading to a notable increase in violent and sexual content. For its entire run, Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired before the Canadian watershed of 9:00 p.m. EST. The only exception was the season six episode "Seeing Red", which premiered at 9:00 p.m. EST in 2002 due to extreme content.
In 1999, YTV broadcast the North American debut of the TV series Farscape, but in 2000 it did not acquire the rights to the second season; as a result it skipped the cliffhanger finale in the first season.
YTV hosted the North American broadcast premiere of Sailor Moon in August 1995. The final 17 episodes of Sailor Moon R were dubbed specifically for the Canadian market. TV series such as Dragon Ball and Pokémon were broadcast on the channel as well. In 2000, YTV broadcast Gundam Wing, airing an edited version of the series at 11:30 p.m. EST on weeknights.
On September 29, 2006, YTV announced that it had applied to the CRTC for permission to launch a Category 2 English language specialty channel called The Anime Channel. The proposal included minimum 85% animated and related programming and maximum 15% information-based programming, targeted at adults over the age of 18. A meeting with the CRTC was held on November 14, 2006. On January 30, 2007, CRTC approved the application for the licence to run until August 31, 2013. The licence allowed the channel to allocate not less than 65% of the broadcast year to anime programs, not more than 35% of the broadcast year to anime-related programs, not less than 85% of the broadcast year to programming from categories 7(d; theatrical feature films aired on TV), 7(e; animated television programs and films) and 7(g; other drama), with no more than 15% of the broadcast year dedicated to information-based programs. Corus Entertainment failed to launch this channel within the required 36-month period and did not apply for an extension.
Between the end of "Limbo" and the beginning of "Bionix", YTV launched the Anime Master forum. The Anime Master character is portrayed as a red-suited masked ninja, dubbed in the voice of YTV's robotic mascot, Snit, and has made a few guest appearances in The Zone and Vortex segments. Live action hosts have also done interviews in Anime North, most of the guests being voice actors for popular animated shows on the channel. The interviews were shown in the live action segments between programmes (called "Animinutes"). On July 19, 2008, Bionix was moved from Friday night to Saturday night, where it aired from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. In September 2009, YTV moved the Bionix block to Sunday nights, where it aired from 12:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. EST. On February 7, 2010, the Bionix block was discontinued.
On September 2, 2014, following both Corus Entertainment's full acquisition of the TELETOON Canada Inc. networks and YTV's addition of select Teletoon programming, the channel's remaining anime programming was removed, and no anime titles have aired on YTV since.
YTV's schedule primarily features both children and teen-oriented programming, with target audiences ranging from children to young adults. At the upper end of this range are repeats of dramas such as Smallville. It aired a significant number of British sitcoms during late nights, such as My Family, but these have been dropped. It was the first channel to air the first completely computer-animated series ReBoot, and it broadcast the North American premiere of Sailor Moon. While some of its shows are targeted at a younger audience, others are intended for older teenagers, with some of the shows dealing with mature content and adult themes.
While it produces or commissions a substantial portion of its programming, YTV also acquires and airs most of the original series broadcast by the similar American services Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, which was not available in Canada until Corus launched domestic versions of the channels on November 2, 2009 for Nickelodeon and July 4, 2012 for Cartoon Network.
Current programming blocks
The Zone - Airing weekday afternoons from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST, The Zone features both animated and live action TV series; it is hosted by Jason Agnew and Tyra Sweet.
The Alley - This was the original weekend morning programming block, which was hosted by the existing PJs from the weekday segments, along with the Grogs.
YTV News - This series was a 30-minute news program aimed at children; it aired on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays, and was advertised as being the only national, youth-oriented television newsmagazine. "YTV News" was hosted by Janis Mackey, Marret Green, Exan, Honey Khan, Cory Atkins, Mark McAllister, and Wilf Dinnick, who covered many stories from Canadian elections to world issues. Viewers of "YTV News" were encouraged to create their own news editorials about themselves and send them in to be broadcast. "YTV News" shared facilities with CTV News, and was briefly rebroadcast on CTV on weekend mornings, albeit with the title "Wuz Up".
The Breakfast Zone - This aired in a morning time slot. It was co-created and produced by Kim Saltarski who also played the character Bobby Braceman. Originally hosted by Jenn Beech and Paul McGuire, with Aashna Patel soon replacing Beech, the block was intended as a morning version of The Zone, but functioned more as a long-running single program than an actual block. Programs started at much more arbitrary times as the banter between the live action hosts became more of a central focus than mere filler material. The block was later rebranded as the "B-Zone", hosted by Taylor, and then rebranded again under the same name, instead hosted by PJ Katie (Jennifer Racicot) and Zeke, a curious creature from outer space (performed by puppeteer Todd Doldersun).
The Vault - This Saturday night block launched in 1997 with YTV's push towards an older demographic. "The Vault" was aimed towards teens with its visual aesthetic, which played heavily on metal, machinery, shock imagery, and electronics. Programming on the block included ReBoot, Transformers: Beast Wars, Deepwater Black, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Brainwash - A weekend programming block that aired on Saturday and Sunday mornings. It was hosted by Carrie Funkwash (musician and puppeteer Ali Eisner) and Ed Brainbin (Shaun Majumder) from a colourful set featuring pipes and video screens. Majumder left the show in 1997 and was replaced by Peter Oldering. The concept was created and originally produced by Kim J. Saltarski and Atul N. Rao, later produced by Karen Young. "Brainwash" had many slogans such as "Put a spin on your reality", "Headaches are an excellent source of iron", and "YTV's laundromat of choice". The theme was a play on the name using bubbles, washing machines, and brain visuals. It featured programs such as Bump in the Night, Astro Boy, Sailor Moon, and The Pink Panther.
Whiplash Wednesdays - Aired on Wednesdays after The Zone; this block focused on superhero and action TV shows. Its branding focused on strange warrior characters getting titular whiplash from kicks, chops, and punches.
YTV Jr. - This weekday programming block aired commercial-free preschool programs such as Rupert and Nanalan'. This programming block later became obsolete as Treehouse TV, YTV's dedicated children's channel and sister network, which has become widely available; it was later replaced by a block called "YTV Playtime".
YTV PlayTime - This aired weekdays 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. EST and was aimed at preschoolers; it consisted of various animated TV series. Unlike YTV's other blocks, YTV Playtime was broadcast commercial-free, except for ads for its own shows.
Vortex - This aired on YTV from 2001 to June 24, 2006. It was hosted by Stephanie Broschart, who left in 2003 and was replaced by Paula Lemyre. Unlike its predecessors, "Vortex" was exclusive to Saturday mornings; the block was based mainly around action-themed cartoons. It ended on June 24, 2006, upon Lemyre's departure from YTV.
Bionix - This block was YTV's action programming and anime block airing from September 10, 2004 - February 7, 2010. The block aired Friday nights until July 19, 2008, when it was moved from Fridays to its new timeslot on Saturdays, from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. EST. In September 2009 it switched to Sunday nights, where it aired from 12:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. EST until it was discontinued on February 27, 2010.
3 Hairy Thumbs Up - This was YTV's former movie block, airing on weekend afternoons. It was the last YTV programming block to use the "Keep it Weird" slogan.
ZAPX Movies - This was a movie block that aired after "3 Hairy Thumbs Up" (later "Moovibot") on Sundays (formerly Saturdays) and was hosted by Simon Mohos. The block was discontinued in 2011, when YTV launched a new weekend movie block called "Big Fun Movies".
Big Fun Fridays - A primetime block that aired Friday nights at 6:00 p.m. EST, with a movie at 7:00 p.m. EST. In 2009, it was expanded into "Big Fun Weeknights".
Moovibot - This replaced the "3 Hairy Thumbs Up" block in 2008 and featured a CGI-animated robot as its "host". It was discontinued in 2009, when "ZAPX" was expanded to include three movies airing back-to-back on Sunday afternoons.
Big Fun Weeknights - A primetime block airing weeknights from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. EST, featuring live action comedy series from both YTV and Nickelodeon.
CRUNCH - This was a Saturday morning programming block dedicated to animation on YTV, launched in 2006 and ending in 2013. It was hosted by Ajay Fry and later Andy Chapman before its end in 2013.
Famalama DingDong - A four-day block with both Teletoon and Disney Channel beginning on February 12, 2016. Programming from YTV included movies and new episodes of various YTV shows.
YTV's 630 - This weeknight block aired live action series at 6:30 p.m. EST.
Prior to the mid-1990s, YTV called their program jockeys "PJs" in the same vein as disc jockey (DJ) or video jockey (VJ). Current hosts of these segments have since dropped the moniker as of the mid-1990s.
Current program jockeys
The Zone and The Zone Weekend are co-hosted by Spencer Litzinger and Tyra Sweet.
On January 11, 2011, Corus Entertainment launched a high-definition feed called "YTV HD", which simulcasts the East Coast standard definition feed. The channel broadcasts in the 1080i picture format and is available through all major service providers.
YTV On Demand
YTV On Demand is a VOD service of YTV. It offers episodes of various TV series aired on YTV.
Treehouse is a Category A cable and satellite specialty channel which airs programming targeted to preschoolers. It launched on November 1, 1997. The channel's name is taken from YTV's now-defunct children's programming block, The Treehouse. Treehouse is carried nationwide throughout Canada and it broadcasts its programming without commercial interruption.
Nickelodeon is a Category B cable and satellite specialty channel that was launched on November 2, 2009, and is based on the U.S. cable channel Nickelodeon. Like its counterparts in the U.S. and elsewhere, Nickelodeon airs programs aimed at children, including both live action series and animation.
Vortex on Demand
In July 2005, Corus Entertainment partnered up with Comcast Corporation to launch a cable video-on-demand service called "Vortex on Demand" in the United States. The deal consisted of 393 30 minute animation TV series from the Nelvana library; it aired programs such as Cadillacs & Dinosaurs and Medabots. The service was discontinued in mid-2007.
Bionix On Demand
In 2008, Corus Entertainment began offering a video-on-demand service called "Bionix On Demand" to Canadian cable providers. Rogers Cable and Shaw Cable were the only providers to offer the service. The service offered older and newer anime programs that did not air on YTV itself. The video-on-demand service was previously titled "YTV Anime On Demand". Bionix On Demand was discontinued on December 17, 2009, and was replaced by YTV On Demand.
Whoa! magazine, YTV's official magazine, began publication in 1999 by Creative House, a joint venture between the channel, Today's Parent Group and Paton Publishing. It was distributed through Pizza Hut, YTV events, Chapters and Indigo bookstores, Canadian newsstands, and subscriptions. Three issues were released in its first year, followed by four in 2000 before the magazine officially became a quarterly (spring, summer, fall, and winter) in 2001. The magazine celebrated its fifth anniversary with a spring collector's issue in 2004. In 2007, the magazine became available as an e-zine on YTV.com. Building on that, in 2008 two additional issues (six for the year) were published as online exclusives. In 2009, YTV ended its association with the magazine. Patton relaunched Whoa! as a magazine/blogging platform without the YTV branding that same year, before ceasing publication in 2011 and shutting the site down in 2012.
Big Fun Party Mix was a series of compilation cassettes/CDs containing songs from various tween approved artists, as well as tracks featured in YTV's Hit List and The Next Star, plus performances by the stations band "Nuclear Donkey". Universal Music Canada published 11 entries from 2000 to 2009.
Yabber.net was a moderated online chat room operated from 2001 to 2004. The site hosted live chats between viewers and celebrities, voice actors, YTV hosts, and staff. Upon its closure, YTV.com absorbed some of its functionality.
YTV Spills was a follow-up quarterly magazine to Whoa! produced in association with The Magazine between 2010 and 2012.
Keep It Weird is a YouTube channel featuring various productions by Nelvana, another division of Corus Entertainment, along with past Nickelodeon series, channel promos, and YTV originals. It launched in 2015 under the name Nelvana Retro and was later rebranded to YTV Direct in 2016 before assuming its current name in 2018.