09/26/2013 12:18 EDT | Updated 11/26/2013 05:12 EST

One-third of Canadians watch TV online, CRTC says

One-third of Canadians watched television online in 2012, according to a new report by the CRTC, a trend likely driven in part by the growing popularity of services like Netflix.

The CRTC's annual Communications Monitoring Report, which looks at trends in pricing, finances and consumption in the country's telecommunications sector, says 33 per cent of Canadians watched television on the internet in 2012, with typical users watching three hours per week. That's up slightly from 2.8 hours in 2011.

Six per cent of Canadians watched programming on a tablet or smartphone, while four per cent report watching television programming exclusively online, the report said.

“It is interesting to note that Canadians’ habits are evolving. More Canadians than ever are watching and listening to content on their computers, smartphones and tablets, yet the vast majority of programming is still accessed through traditional television and radio services," said Jean-Pierre Blais, CRTC chairman, in a news release about the report.

Canadians are also turning to the internet to stream radio: 20 per cent of Canadians streamed radio online in 2012, with 14 per cent streaming audio content on a smartphone, 13 per cent streaming a personalized internet music service and eight per cent streaming audio on a tablet, the report said.

It all added up to 20.1 hours per week spent online for anglophones and 13 hours a week online for francophones, according to the CRTC.

The CRTC report follows a July report by Media Technology Monitor that suggested about 25 per cent of anglophone Canadians had signed up for video streaming service Netflix. That’s up from 13 per cent in the spring of 2012.

The MTM research was based on surveys with 2,013 adults between March 6 and April 14 and considered accurate within plus or minus 2.2 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

About 84 per cent of the respondents who used Netflix said they typically watched at least one movie or TV show on the streaming service every week, MTM said.

While conventional broadcasters have to follow CRTC rules, including broadcasting a certain percentage of Canadian content, online broadcasters aren't governed by the CRTC, so have more freedom.