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Focus lost on 24CH despite Club 1909's debut

24CH isn't engaging its English fans across Canada anymore, and the reason is the almighty dollar

We all were excited when we first heard about it. A reality show weekly documentary about our favourite team? How about, yes please! Hell, yeah! Gimme gimme! Hoo boy!

The first season grabbed us because we all can't get enough of what our team does. If we get a chance for behind-the-scenes anything; face it, we eat it up and ask for seconds. Although it wasn't yet weekly, it engaged fans, who took to twitter to "watch" it together.

The second season saw a change in the production team, became a weekly edition, and added new elements of players' background stories, visits to their birthplaces and with their families, and the chance to sit in on team meetings, coaches' meetings and intermissions. Although these were obviously highly edited, they added a dramatic element and for me, the second season was the best so far.

This season? Well, this season the editorial staff at Eyes on the Prize sat down to discuss how we were going to switch up the show summaries we've been doing since season two. You know, the free advertising we were giving to the show. Last year, I painstakingly recapped every moment of it, doing so for the benefit of everyone who couldn't watch it. But the thing was, everybody did watch it. So instead, we decided to just do a summary of the show, and I just added my commentary to noteworthy moments.

But here's the thing: everybody's not watching it this season. The reason for this is that 24CH is no longer reaching the masses, at least not in English. Viewers this season outside of Montreal do not get to watch the show in English.

I mentioned this in a recent summary, ironically titled "Making up for a misstep." How's this for a misstep: in a season that has seen the birth of a new, worldwide campaign to engage Habs fans, Club 1909, the one show that brought us all together is only available in French outside of Montreal. Let me say that again. Only in French. Outside of Montreal.

The only place you can see the English version is in the one and only city you would think doesn't particularly need it. How does this make any kind of sense whatsoever? Especially considering the wild success the show had with Habs fans, who reside, as acknowledged by the 1909 campaign, coast to coast, ocean to ocean, and North Pole to South Pole? And who, let's face it, mostly don't speak French? And this, in a season of the program that includes more French content than ever before? Most of the player interviews are with those who speak French, and at a rat-a-tat pace that even I, who understand French, have to rewind to pick up.

It's a very curious new occurrence and a flat-out missed opportunity to say the least, or more appropriately, a flat-out bad call that directly contravenes the intent of the 1909 campaign. A real head-scratcher coming from an organization that, for the past two years under the new sheriff, seems to have been doing everything right, and earning my unabashed admiration.

But excuse me, you actually can see the show in English outside of Montreal. But only if you are a Bell customer. The difference between last year and this year was that everybody got to watch the English version last year, albeit a few days after the preferred child aired in French, but none of us complained about the delay. The show was watched, commented on on twitter, on this site, and the English radio waves, earning the kind of buzz you'd think the producers would have loved. Anything Habs related is going to be a success with the fans.

Which says to me that it has to come down to the almighty buck. Bell Media. The Bell Centre. Hmmmm. Instead of keeping one of the infinitesimally few "free" things that salivating Habs fans outside of Montreal got to enjoy, it's been changed so that now, we have to pay for it. Again, I shake my head in particular that this happens in the same year as the kumbaya, big happy family 1909 campaign. I have second-hand embarrassment over the change and consider it a blight on a great year of progress for the franchise in general. And you don't know how much it actually pains me to criticize that. I'm used to gushing. This hurts.

Wonder how many new customers Bell got, and wonder who's just taking French lessons?