Super Bowl ratings were down 39 per cent in Canada this year, a drop that national rights-holder Bell Media blamed on a CRTC decision mandating this year’s game feed from Fox not be substituted with a Canadian signal.
The New England Patriots’ 34-28 overtime win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night drew an average audience of 4.47 million viewers on CTV, CTV Two, and TSN, a Bell Media spokesman said in an email.
An unknown number of Canadians switched over to watch the game on Fox, where they could watch U.S. commercials rather than Canadian ads substituted in the feed. In the U.S., Fox had 111.3 million viewers.
“It’s the outcome we predicted despite our efforts to mitigate the audience loss, and the support of the Canadian companies that stepped up to advertise on the domestic broadcast,” said Scott Henderson, Bell Media vice-president, communications.
“The CRTC’s decision is clearly having a direct and negative impact on Canadian viewers, advertisers, and the broader broadcasting and creative community. We’ll continue our fight alongside the NFL to reverse it.”
Last year’s Super Bowl between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers drew an average audience of 7.32 million on CTV.
Citing complaints from Canadian viewers, the CRTC ruled in 2015 that simultaneous substitution of Canadian spots over the star-studded American ads played during the Super Bowl would no longer be allowed.
The ruling kicked in for this year’s championship game.