Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Support quality journalism
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
The Globe and Mail
Support quality journalism
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Globe and Mail website displayed on various devices
Just$1.99
per week
for the first 24 weeks

var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){console.log("scroll");var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1);

Jean-Pierre Blais, CEO of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, addresses the Canadian Chapter of the International Institute of Communications, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016 in Ottawa.

Justin Tang/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The broadcast regulator is denying that its controversial decision to end a ban on U.S. Super Bowl ads had anything to do with a drop in ratings for the Canadian broadcasts of this year's big game.

Bell Media, which holds the Canadian rights to the game, says an average of 4.47 million viewers tuned in to watch last month as the New England Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime – 39 per cent fewer viewers than in 2016.

In the days following the Feb. 5 broadcast, Bell – owner of CTV, CTV Two and TSN – blamed the decline on the 2015 decision by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

Story continues below advertisement

A response from CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais, released this week, says audience numbers for the Super Bowl have been in decline for some time and that there is more programming competing for viewers.

Citing complaints from Canadian viewers, the CRTC decided in 2015 to end the so-called "simultaneous substitution" of Canadian commercials for the star-studded American ads, starting with this year's game.

Bell Media, the National Football League, Canadian advertisers and several artists' unions launched a high-profile but ultimately unsuccessful campaign to have the ruling reversed.

"It should be noted that the Super Bowl (average minute audience) in Canada had already decreased by 9.5 per cent from 2015 to 2016 and that, according to news reports, the NFL has been experiencing lower viewership overall," Blais said in the Feb. 28 letter.

"This fact, combined with the reality that there are more programming services and high quality programming than ever before competing for consumers' attention, makes it difficult to draw a direct correlation between the total drop in the AMA for the Canadian broadcasters of the Super Bowl and the commission's decision on simultaneous substitution."

In the U.S., Fox drew an audience of 111.3 million viewers for the first Super Bowl to ever go into overtime, a smaller audience than the game has had in the last two years but still ranking among the biggest for a television program in the United States.

The Nielsen company says the Super Bowl saw its biggest ratings south of the border in 2015 when 114.4 million viewers saw the Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks.

Story continues below advertisement

Blais also cited increased audience numbers for French-language sports channel RDS, which carried the game with French ads, as a "clear sign" that Canadian broadcasters are capable of attracting larger audiences.

According to audience measurement firm Numeris, 994,700 people tuned into the RDS broadcast, up from 951,300 in 2016 and 935,000 the previous year, Blais wrote.

Bell Media declined to comment on Blais's letter. But in a statement issued shortly after the game, Scott Henderson, Bell Media vice-president, communications, said the CRTC's decision had "a direct and negative impact on Canadian viewers, advertisers and the broader broadcasting and creative community."

In late December, the media giant and the NFL jointly filed legal action against the regulator, asking the Federal Court of Appeal to reverse the commercial decision. No date has been set to hear the appeal.

Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies