Canadians hoping to lure non-football fans to their Super Bowl parties this weekend with promises of hilarious high-budget American advertisements are going to be sorely disappointed.
That’s because, for the first time since 2017, Canadian broadcasts of the biggest game in sports will not feature American ads. In December, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled 7-2 in favour of cutting out American commercials from Canadian broadcasts of the Super Bowl and replacing them with Canadian ads. The vote reversed a previous decision from the CRTC in 2016 to allow the American ads.
From 2017 to 2019, Canadians who watched the Super Bowl on American channels like NBC or Fox were shown American advertisements. Canadian channels still showed Canadian ads.
The CRTC opted to start allowing the American ads in 2016 largely due to public opinion. American Super Bowl advertisements are events unto themselves and often attract a lot of hype. From celebrity cameos to massive productions, Canadians wanted to see them, too, as they premiered and the rest of the world watched.
WATCH: The $20 million political Super Bowl ads. Do they matter? Story continues below.
They’re a cultural event, tracing back decades and spurring countless “you had to be there” moments for Super Bowl watchers who might’ve been less interested in the football side of things.
But going forward following the December Supreme Court decision, all Canadian broadcasters will show domestic ads through simultaneous substitution. That means for this year’s Super Bowl between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers, even if the broadcast is American, during commercial breaks it will switch over the Canadian ads.
Why the change? The big answer is money.
The Super Bowl is one of the most watched television events annually, and Canadian advertisers want to soak up those sweet sweet ad dollars. Bell Media and the NFL signed an exclusive deal in 2013 to broadcast the Super Bowl in Canada, and they argued to the Supreme Court that the CRTC didn’t have the power to let American ads through.
Canadian advertisers want to target Canadian audiences, and having all the Canadian audiences flock to watch American ads doesn’t favour that. Last year, 4.33 million Canadians watched the Super Bowl, which equals a lot of eyeballs.
And there’s no guarantee the Canadian ads won’t be good, too. We can have faith they’ll also pull out all the stops — though a Canadian Super Bowl spot likely doesn’t command the $5.25-million price tag of 30 seconds of American airtime.
Where can you watch the American ads if you’re Canadian?
Short of hopping across the border to the nearest sports bar, online is likely your best bet. Unlike the olden days where you could only see Apple’s “1984” ad in real time on the television, these days most Super Bowl ads make their way online sooner or later. This year, many ads have already launched on social media ahead of the big game, including the death of Mr. Peanut and a sneak peak at a Tide ad featuring “Schitt’s Creek” star Emily Hampshire.
So don’t worry, you’ll be able to share your opinions on the Geico gecko at some point — maybe just not right away during the broadcast.
With files from the Canadian Press.