Seeing Canadian Commercials during the Super Bowl

Ads during the Super Bowl get a lot of hype, but during the live broadcast, Canadians often don't see the same ads as those seen in the US.

The reason for this is that Canadian TV stations pay for the right to broadcast the Super Bowl in Canada. To finance that expense, those stations sell separate advertising during the game. In Canada, most of the advertising time is sold to Canadian advertisers who want to reach Canadian audiences. As a result, Super Bowl viewers in Canada see the Canadian ads instead of the ones that US viewers see. Canada and the United States are separate markets for television rights.

Even if you get US TV stations that broadcast the Super Bowl, these stations haven't bought the rights to broadcast the game in Canada. So the American signal carrying the game is usually replaced with a Canadian signal through a process called signal substitution. For a number of years, the US ads have been available on the internet.

Starting on February 2, watch the American commercials on YouTube's AdBlitz channel.

What is signal substitution?

Signal substitution is when one signal is replaced by another. Usually, an American signal is replaced by a Canadian signal. Sometimes a Canadian signal from outside your area is replaced with a local signal. During the Super Bowl, signal substitution typically results in Canadian advertisements, rather than US advertisements, being broadcast to Canadians.

Why substitute signals?

Signal substitution during the Super Bowl benefits Canadian broadcasters, businesses and viewers.

  • It protects the rights of broadcasters. Broadcasters are paying for exclusive rights to air the Super Bowl game in their local markets. Signal substitution is necessary to protect the rights they have paid for as part of their business.
  • It generates advertising dollars in Canada. By replacing American ads with Canadian ads, signal substitution results in advertising money being generated in the Canadian market and benefiting the Canadian economy. In 2010, the estimated revenue impact of substitution was $200 million.
  • It promotes local broadcasting and local creation. Signal substitution ensures that local stations keep their local audiences and the advertising dollars that go with those audiences, enabling them to continue to operate and to offer their viewers local as well as international programming.
  • It's good for the Canadian economy. Canadian broadcasters and advertisers create jobs, generate economic activity and pay taxes right here in Canada.

Related information

Signal substitution - same program, different commercials