CRTC Superbowl Decision

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The CRTC decided today that Canadian media companies will be prevented from blocking out Superbowl ads starting as early as the 2017 NFL competition.

Historically, Canadian stations and broadcasters were able to run a split simulcast of the big game and interrupt Canadian viewers with ads that were created as part of Canadian media buys.

Sporting events, prime-time television, live events like the Oscars and Grammy Awards and other occasions always had some hint of Canadiana associated with it.

While this was to the great annoyance of nearly all Canadians watching the events like the Superbowl, it resulted in decades worth of indirect subsidies to a now-massive business that exists in the marketing and agency world.

Every year, billions of ad dollars are spent in Canada by Canadian and international companies and organizations that target a Canadian audience.

As someone who spent many years in the media business, I had first-hand visibility of the ‘TV is God’ when it came to media buying and planning advertising campaigns.

Adding to the ‘sting’ of the situation was that I focused on digital media buying, always making do with scraps from TV and print and having to go through endless hoops and efforts to prove the worth of a digital media buy, despite print and TV slobs sitting on their asses offering nothing more than comments about ‘reach’ and ‘frequency’ or ‘circulation’.  All the while, people were only buying newspapers to start fire in the winter and unplugging their TV in favour of internet services.

Yes, this article is a bit of an ‘I told you so’ for the massive, bloated and incredibly inefficient industry that was built up around simultaneous substitution.

The ad agency world in urban centres like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver will suffer the biggest blows from this decision, as they will no longer be able to use revenue from TV buys and subsidize other activities, like limos, glitzy awards galas and a raft of extremely well-paid positions.

It’s not quite doom and gloom yet for the companies that used to benefit from these rules – Rogers and Bell in particular, but also companies like Videotron and Corus – as they will probably survive a couple of years on the last fumes of the industry that they’ve milked for decades.  However, the CRTC has clearly chosen to move away from the big media conglomerates in favour of consumers.

Much like how the Harper government uses the military but then spits on the needs of veterans, the Harper government seems to be turning its back on ‘big media’ just so they can get out a few soundbites in the 2015 election.  Through the actions of the CRTC, they seem to be disrupting the status quo in favour of more consumer options and flexibility. The Harper government will announce a victory for all consumers and consumers (stupid as they are) will fail to understand the implications of these changes.

In other words, don’t weep for Bell or Rogers.  They’re already raking it in with massive load restrictions on content viewing, miniscule and stingy data plans and the most expensive wireless and internet services in the world.

As Canadians are being promised more options, they’ll be paying significantly more for the content that they used to get for nominal prices.

And Harper will get what he always wants:  a good F-U to urban workers with decent jobs in creative industries in exchange for drooling loyalty from goons that want to watch the ‘Bud Bowl’ or monkeys sniffing their own butts.

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