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The Globe and Mail

Why Canadian TV didn't have the big Super Bowl ads (and how you can watch them anyway)

Canadians didn't see many of the Super Bowl ads that get so much buzz.

Why? It's a rights issue. Canadian TV networks pay for the exclusive right to broadcast the Super Bowl in this country. They make their money by selling ad time, and advertisers buy in on the premise that all Canadians watching will see their ad instead of the American ones.

So, whenever a U.S. station is showing the same program as a Canadian channel, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission requires that upon request the cable or satellite provider must switch the American feed over so that the Canadian commercials are visible and the broadcasters' rights deals are upheld.

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In the case of the Super Bowl, that means that even if you watched in Canada on an NBC station on cable or satellite, providers such as Rogers, Bell or Shaw will be airing the CTV broadcast on that space on the dial.

The process is known under CRTC regulation as "simultaneous substitution" – a boon to the broadcast networks, a bane to the average Super Bowl viewer hungry for star-studded U.S. spots.

The Fix

If you want the full American experience, the ads were played in sequence on a dedicated YouTube channel just for game-day advertising: This year AdBlitz is also formatted for tablets and smartphones.

Made in Canada, eh!

Labatt Brewing Co. Ltd. was one of the few companies that created a spot just for the Super Bowl in Canada – and it used hockey to make an impact.

The company hijacked a recreational hockey league game, filling an arena in Port Credit, Ont., with roughly 500 "fans," complete with noisemakers, team flags and even a few painted torsos. Mascots charged the ice with T-shirt cannons. Replays lit up a Jumbotron. Sportscasters called the plays. Labatt filmed the entire spectacle, fulfilling a dream for a handful of weeknight warriors.

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"We wanted to do something that really resonated with Canadians," says Budweiser Canada spokesperson Briar Wells. "Hockey is where it's at – even though it's during the Super Bowl, hockey is first – so it was an opportunity to combine the two."

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