American Super Bowl Ads to Reach Canadian TV in 2017

Colts Broncos NFL Football - H 2014
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Colts Broncos NFL Football - H 2014

The CRTC will end a ban on Canadians seeing the same hyped commercials as Americans during the big game.

It won't happen with this Sunday's Super Bowl, but Canadians tuning into the 2017 NFL championship game will finally see one much-hyped element on their TV sets: American commercials.

The CRTC on Thursday said it will end an annual rite where Canadian TV viewers must watch local ads that replace glitzy American counterparts on the U.S. feed for the Super Bowl game — and a flood of irate phone calls and e-mail messages directed to Canada's TV watchdog certain to follow.

"They [Canadians] tell the CRTC — and we receive many complaints — that they want to see the newest American commercials as and when they are broadcast," said CRTC chair Jean-Pierre Blais on Thursday during a morning address. The culprit is Canada's decades-old simultaneous substitution rules, which will allow CTV this Sunday to replace the NBC feed and air its own commercials.

Read more Super Bowl: Canada's CTV Sells Out Advertising

The homegrown ads also mean frustrated Canadians miss some Super Bowl game action as they dash back from the bathroom or the refrigerator during commercial breaks. "They rightly resent the fact that simsub is often mistimed, causing viewers to miss, for example, key plays during a big game," Blais added.

That will change after the CRTC opened the door to American Super Bowl commercials airing here, starting in 2017. The U.S. ads could arrive on the 2016 Super Bowl game telecast if CTV-parent Bell Media, which holds the Canadian rights to the NFL championship game, waives its right to switch commercials.

The CRTC will still maintain simultaneous substitution rules for the rest of American programming on conventional Canadian TV sets, however, as the protectionist measure puts round $250 million into the coffers of Canadian broadcasters annually. "It’s too intertwined to remove entirely without upsetting the existing business model," Blais said.

"But that is not to say that the commission (CRTC) is maintaining the status quo," he warned.