Super Bowl Commercials Set to Air North of the Border


The Super Bowl is next Sunday, and thanks to a recent CRTC ruling, things will be different for Canadians tuning into the big game this year. Starting in 2017, simultaneous substitution (“simsub”) during the Super Bowl is no longer allowed. This means that viewers tuning into a Canadian channel airing the game will see Canadians ads, while those tuning into a US channel will see the American ads.

What does it mean for fans?

Fans get more choice. And more choice means finally being able to watch the much anticipated Super Bowl commercials during the game. Up until now, Canadian networks holding broadcasting rights for the Super Bowl have been able to request that their signal be substituted on American channels broadcasting the game. This meant Canadians saw local commercials, regardless if they were watching the game on a Canadian or American channel, and not the big budget American commercials.

What does it mean for Canadian networks?

The ruling means less viewers and, correspondingly, ad dollars for Canadian broadcasters. In previous years, simsub inflated viewership for Canadian channels during the big game, and as a result, networks could charge advertisers accordingly. Now that local commercials won’t be substituted on American channels, expect many Canadians to tune into FOX to catch the American Super Bowl commercials, leaving Canadian networks with less viewers and ROI on their media rights investment.

The verdict

While giving consumers more choice is never a bad thing, I think the CRTC is about a decade too late here. With many of the Super Bowl commercials now being released on YouTube ahead of the game, and if not, being readily available online either during or right after the game, seeing them in real time is not as big of a deal anymore. Ultimately, this is a small win for consumers but a potentially big loss for Canadian broadcasters at a time when primetime sports programming like the Super Bowl is critical for attracting viewership, promoting other network shows, and generating ad dollars.


Adam Puddicombe

Adam Puddicombe is a digital marketing professional who, by day, works in the ad agency world, and by night, covers the intersection of Canadian sports, media, and technology. Adam holds a degree in commerce, with a focus in marketing, and previously worked for Hockey Night in Canada’s Play On! and the St. John’s Fog Devils of the QMJHL. Follow him on Twitter @adampuddicombe.