Bell Aims to Retain Super Bowl Viewers via Contests; NFL Says Trump Aware of Ad Spat


We’re four days away from Super Bowl LI, and the CRTC still appears to have maintained its position on banning “sim-subs” for the game this year, meaning Bell Media will not be able to show Canadian ads overtop the expensive ($5 million USD for a 30 second ad!) American ones most want to see.

Despite lobbying on both sides of the border, no major decision has been made to overturn the CRTC ruling. NFL broadcasting rights in Canada are owned by Bell Media, which will air the game on CTV and TSN.

According to the Financial Post, the NFL has handed off the issue to President Trump, with Jocelyn Moore, the NFL’s D.C.-based senior vice president of government affairs, saying “The President is aware. This is on his radar. We are hopeful this will be resolved prior to the Super Bowl.” The NFL said it lobbied Trump’s administration after the latter’s inauguration.

As for Bell Media, the company told the Post it will be “moving forward with plans to protect our audience as much as possible for our advertisers,” according to spokesperson Scott Henderson.

Bell says it will reward those who opt to view their “distinctly Canadian broadcast” on CTV through a variety of contests, which will include an “unprecedented slate of prizes”. After the Super Bowl, CTV will air an ad-free version of popular web series Letterkenny, in another attempt to draw in viewers.

Yesterday, Bell Media announced layoffs nationwide, affecting over 24 locations in radio and television stations, citing the Super Bowl ad issue as the reason, with Henderson saying “There’s definitely been a significant revenue impact from the Super Bowl and other regulatory decisions as well.”


  • CMfly

    Look at that, this crtc rulling has already spurred on innovation! Well done CRTC and Bell Media!

  • John

    The CRTC has never had the best interests of the general Canadian public. Only when there is a big public stink do they do anything, and only grudgingly the very minimum. No sympathy for Bell, however sorry to hear about the layoffs. Hopefully they are able to get work elsewhere quickly.

  • Bob Zmuda

    Lol. Cry me a river Bell… Layoffs were due to the Super Bowl issue? What’s next? A $5/month cellphone bill increase for everyone if you don’t hit your viewership targets on Letterkenny?

  • Parksy

    I’m generally happy about this as we won’t have to see the same commercials 20 times during the game but am slightly confused on how this is going to work. I’m assuming the CBS station I get in my cable package will show the game how they would to their US residents but will CTV not still be able to sell their own ads to show on their own stations?

  • Riley Freeman

    they need to leave it as is. Let bell air commercials on canadian channels and the american commercials on american channels. i dont get why this is such a big deal

  • Go Pats!

    You mean Fox 🙂

  • Mr Dog

    Yeah! Like I don’t understand the big deal here.

  • erth

    economists will be very happy with this. they can now use the actual data of who watches ctv and tsn, compared to the american feed and report back at with what the data shows. we can speculate all we want, but i will guess that this will be a win for the american feed. why not just give the user the option of watching either? seems very heavy handed by our socialist government.

  • Yes, that’s exactly it CTV will still show Canadian commercials, but viewers in Canada will see the same CBS feed as those south of the border. For the past 40 years, the cable companies basically “overdubbed” the commercials on the U.S. stations — essentially cutting over during commercial time to Canadian ads, even though you’re watching a U.S. station. The CRTC decision says they’re not allowed to do that anymore, and have to pass the U.S. stations through unadulterated.

    Meanwhile, the Canadian stations can still run Canadian ads, as they always have. What this decision does is basically prevent Bell from “editing” the American feeds, which isn’t really a bad thing for other reasons either…. On several occasions the timing of these inserted commercial blocks have been off so that you actually lose portions of the game commentary when going to or coming back from a commercial break.