U.S. Super Bowl ads lure millions of Canadians away from local broadcasts

Superbowl LII

Ask any non-football fan what the biggest draw of the Super Bowl is, and most will undoubtedly say “the ads.” It seems that many Canucks share this sentiment, as for the second year in a row, U.S. Super Bowl ads lured millions of Canadians away from local broadcasts of the annual sports event.

Bell Media reports an average audience of 4.45 million viewers split between CTV, CTV Two and TSN2. Though this is only a decrease of .02 million viewers from 2017, it represents a significant 40 percent viewership decay from 2016’s figure of 7.32 million viewers.

Notably, 2016 was the last year before regulations were changed to allow U.S. ads to air in Canada on American-owned networks. In 2017, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission banned the practice of replacing U.S. ads with Canadian ones during the Super Bowl, due to complaints from Canadians that they were missing out on America’s flashier offerings.

Nowadays, Canadians can simply view an American broadcast (such as on NBC) in order to see the ads, which Bell blames for the loss of nearly 3 million viewers on local channels.

Bell and the NFL have asked Canada’s Supreme Court to look at the decision, with the telecom claiming that the change cost them $11 million in ad revenue in 2017.

“The decision has had a significant negative impact on national and local Canadian advertising for the game, and reduced investment by advertisers adversely affects the broader Canadian broadcasting and creative community,” said Bell spokesman Scott Henderson in an email to the Financial Post.

“It can be difficult to compete when U.S. brands are allowed to advertise to Canadians for free. We continue to pursue every opportunity to manage these impacts and resolve an unfair decision.”

Even in the United States, viewership of the Super Bowl declined for the third straight year, even when factoring in online viewers.

Source: Financial Post