Bell’s Super Bowl Ratings Plunged 39% Over CRTC Ad Ruling


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If it’s the Super Bowl, it means that it’s the perfect reason for Bell to complain about the CRTC’s decision on “simultaneous substitution” or simsubs. Bell says its ratings dropped by 39% this year compared with last, due to the regulator’s ruling to prohibit simsubs during the popular Super Bowl games, which, some say are watched as much for the commercials as for the game itself.

While in the US the ratings dropped just slightly — 111.3 million compared to 111.9 million last year according to Nielsen’s report — Bell’s numbers aren’t as shiny. Bell owns exclusive rights to broadcast the game on TV in Canada.

According to a report from the Globe and Mail, this year CTV, CTV Two and TSN drew an average audience of just 4.47 million. That compares to CTV’s last year audience of 7.32 million Canadians watching Super Bowl.

The reason of this drop is the 2015 decision of the CRTC banning siusubs during the Super Bowl starting this year. Although it applies to the game itself and it doesn’t hurt the pre- and post-game coverage, it had the aforementioned results, according to Bell.

You may recall that Bell Media has recently announced that it is reducing staff, partly because of the Super Bowl simsub issue.

In order to increase the audience, Bell has put the game on more of its channels and it has also launched a “Watch and Win” contest with cash prizes available only for those watching the Canadian feed. The latter ultimately turned against Bell, because of a technical glitch: people began to complain that the messages don’t go through. This glitch was fixed by the second quarter, Bell said.


  • RickysCV

    It would be interesting to compare the price advertisers paid here versus the US on Fox which was around 5 million dollars for 30 seconds. Canadian advertisers would never pay that kind of money to be on any event; so it’s a David and Goliath thing. I along with many others, watched the game on CTV for a shot at the prizes in a contest that didn’t work smoothly, and PVR’d the game on FOX and watched the ads later.

  • Tim

    I watched it on the Fox Sports Go app. I wasn’t going to help Bell in the ratings.

  • SkAshe

    Cry me a river Bell

  • The Super Bowl party I went to this year, without simsub, saw everyone in the room drawn into the U.S. commercials we saw on Fox–and laughing and talking about each one. It definitely is part of the experience and is something Canadians have been missing out on. Of course, CTV channels were still there for those who wanted the Canadian feed.

  • Many99

    That’s what I did as well using my Appletv with the Fox Go app

  • Kyle Mitton

    Why isn’t Bell showing the same ads? They get the same feed from the US station

  • Chris

    I watched the Fox feed, mostly as a big middle finger to Bell… I checked in on the CTV feed through the guide on my set top box to see what ads were being aired. Turns out, it was the same shitty every day ads as usual. Bell misses the boat here. They could focus on “new” Canadian ads to combat the US ads but instead, just air the same ol A&W, Crap Tire (Canadian Tire), etc. ads one can see every day for the last few years.

  • erth

    i live in a place where an antennae is able to get the usa feeds, so this is not something i really care about. but the point that a lot of media are missing, is that this is what competition is all about. if you start losing eyes, you change to get them back. bell doesn’t do this, they bitch to the government. what have we created here in canada with the crtc protection? i suggest mediocrity. this is why canadians are complaining. we get crapy service, we get crapy commercials and we get crappy stuff, because the government protects all the big players. i suggest that the governement should pull all the protections away and let the chips fall. they will either change, or go bankrupt.
    just my opinion.

  • Geoffrey Spencer

    Are they counting all of the people with HD Over-The-Air antennas? Most likely not. Still…poor Bell .

  • Sam Chiu

    Another vote for “new” Canadian ads”.
    And hopefully, new Canadian ads translates to new Canadian jobs. 🙂
    But given the budget of Canadian firms, they may not compete well against the once from the U.S. 🙁

  • YoGoerz

    How can they swing that statement?
    Consumers choose to watch more football because of their ad experience? And you’re claiming a smaller budgeted Canadian ad sector is more entertaining and would have pulled a larger crowd?
    The only thing I can see here is maybe Bell didn’t advertise the game ahead of time knowing they couldn’t make as much money and that maybe dropped some numbers.
    All in though, I watched the game and even though I follow this stuff I didn’t even notice I accidentally got the Canadian ads right away. I don’t think this simsub effected the Canadian viewer at all.

  • YoGoerz

    The T-Mobile ad’s killed me ????
    Can you imagine if Rogers Bell and Telus were that cut throat??