Despite U.S. Show Dominance, Canada Sees TV Ad Revenue Decline

Michael Yarish/CBS
'The Big Bang Theory'

The traditional advertising bonanza from featuring primetime schedules mostly mirroring those of the U.S. networks stateside didn't show up in 2014.

As Canadian broadcasters get set to chase the next The Big Bang Theory and Survivor at the Los Angeles Screenings this month, Canada's TV watchdog on Monday reported they faced tumbling free, over-the-air TV ad revenue in 2014.

The CRTC, the country's broadcast regulator, cited a "challenging" ad market to explain private broadcasters seeing overall TV ad revenue tumbling 7.2 percent to CAN$1.8 billion (US$1.49 billion), compared to CAN$1.94 billion in 2013. That TV ad decline gathered pace last year after private Canadian TV stations saw their revenues slide 4.6 percent from CAN$2.04 billion in 2012 to CAN$1.94 billion in 2013.

The continuing TV ad revenue fall comes amid a fast-changing Canadian broadcast landscape where viewers and advertisers increasingly migrate from free, ad-supported TV stations to cable channels, the Internet and especially Netflix Canada. With their primetime schedules a mish-mash of five U.S. networks, if you include The CW, Canadian private broadcasters last year continued to spend more on foreign dramas, comedies and reality series than on local competition.

The CRTC reports the Canucks last year spent CAN$717 million (US$592 million) on foreign, mostly American series, down from CAN$731 million spent on non-Canadian fare in 2013. Private Canadian broadcasters in 2014 poured CAN$619.3 million (US$511.6 million) into Canadian TV fare, up from CAN$605.4 million invested in 2013.

Just over half of that total Canadian content spend last year, or CAN$361.1 million (US$216.5 million), went into local newscasts. Another CAN$60.4 million (US$50 million) went into Canadian-made dramas, as broadcasters continue to rely instead on popular U.S. dramas and other scripted fare to woo audiences and advertisers.