New Year’s Eve celebrations in Niagara Falls are going big again this year, with the return of a national TV broadcast and a midnight countdown, hosted by Rick Mercer.
Well, likely, at least.
The city said Thursday it was still in the final negotiations with CBC to secure the broadcast.
Mayor Diodati told Niagara Now that the city has “always wanted” to continue a live broadcast and that the reason it stopped was a matter of finances.
“Media has changed, and its revenue profile has completely changed,” said Diodati.
“(Broadcasters) don’t make the money they used to with advertisers, so it made it a much more difficult model to run.”
This year, Diodati said the CBC approached the Falls and other municipalities out west and east looking to do a culminating Canada 150 event.
“And of course, Niagara Falls is centre stage when it comes to New Year’s Eve shows, so they came to us.”
“The stars aligned for this one,” he said.
The show will be a shared broadcast, travelling across Canada with Niagara Falls as the centre stage.
Though this is a “one-off” with CBC, Diodati said he wants the city to find a way to continue broadcasting the show live in years to come.
He said he’s been arguing that even with advertising changing, New Year’s Eve is a one-of-a-kind opportunity.
“Nowadays I’ll have one of my kids upstairs watching Netflix on their iPad, I’ll have someone downstairs watching Cogeco on demand, and I’ll have someone else watching their cell phone … but this is one of the rare opportunities where everyone is watching the same show on the television.”
“It’s a great opportunity to access a lot of people at the same time and have impact. And that’s what advertising is all about.”
He said he would also like to see an online live stream of the concert in future years, because it could offer more interactive approaches and free the city of broadcasting restrictions.
“The national broadcast is important because a lot of people still use traditional media, but more and more, especially millennials, they want to watch live streaming. And then, if you do it right, it’s much more interactive and they can watch the view that they’re interested in. If they want to watch the drummer, the crowd, or from a certain angle, they’ll be able to do that with an interactive live-streaming broadcast.”
He said he’d like to see the city do both in the future.
Diodati said the proposed hotel tax might end up being a funding model to going back to an annual broadcast.
“That’s the way I’d like to see it happen … we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, but definitely I see this evolving, and it’s going to be a different model than used in the past.”
Diodati reminisced a bit about the shows throughout the years:
“We had the tops ratings in the country. We had massive crowds down in Queen Victoria Park. It was the place to be for New Year’s Eve — the Times Square of Canada.”
This year’s concert will see Marianas Trench, Simple Plan, Jess Moskaluke and James Barker Band take the stage.
When asked about the choices of acts, Diodati said the CBC stipulations for the TV broadcast were that the bands must all be Canadian.
“That limits the amount of choices you have when you only choose Canadian. But having said that, we’ve always had some younger up-and-comers, like when we had Shawn Mendez, and he was a three on the Rictor scale, compared to today where he’s a 10 … some of our people have got a real good eye for up-and-coming talent.”
He continued: “You know, we’re caught between bringing in retro shows and bands that were more known yesterday than today and groups that will be more known tomorrow than today, so we try to find that happy balance of up-and-coming with familiarity, and it’s a combination of who’s available and who’s affordable.”
Rick Mercer, who will host the countdown to 2018 from Ottawa, was in the city during the opening of the Winter Festival of Lights last week to film a segment for The Rick Mercer Report. The Segment is set to air Dec. 5, according to the show’s publicist David McCaughna.
What you need to know about the celebrations:
– Niagara Falls New Year’s Eve celebrations will be at Queen Victoria Park, across from the actual falls.
– The festivities start at 8 p.m.
– Bands will be Marianas Trench, Simple Plan, Jess Moskaluke and James Barker Band.
– Fireworks at 9 p.m. and midnight.