Canadian Super Bowl fans shut out on hot ads
Published Thursday, February 1, 2007 5:36PM EST
TORONTO - Every year, it's the same Super Bowl complaint. Why can't Canadians see the spectacular commercials that are such a big part of the annual televised NFL showdown in the United States? Why must we sit through the same boring Canadian ads, over and over again, when our American counterparts are treated to a virtual extravaganza of never-before-seen glitzy commercials?
Blame the CRTC's so-called simultaneous substitution rule, not Global, the network airing the Super Bowl this Sunday from a CBS feed.
The hue and cry is so intense every year at about this time that the CRTC even posted a Q&A on its website Thursday (www.crtc.gc.ca) explaining why Canadians are denied the privilege of taking in some of the most expensive commercials ever made _ and this year, too, of watching a cheeky insurance ad in which Britney Spears ex Kevin Federline plays a rap star who ends up as a fast food worker.
Substituting the U.S. signal with a Canadian one and airing Canadian, not American, commercials, the federal agency chides, "is done to bring millions of advertising dollars back into the Canadian broadcasting system. Advertising revenues are also what enable Canadian broadcasters to bring you programming such as the Super Bowl.''
It's not a regulation that goes over well with Canadian football fans. Every year, the CRTC is flooded with complaints from viewers peeved that they aren't able to see the spots the world has been buzzing about for weeks.
"If you're watching on a Canadian network, you have no choice,'' says Nick Bontis, business professor at McMaster University in Hamilton. "It gets boring. It's the same commercials over and over again -- for a lot of Canadian consumers, they're just getting up and leaving the room during the commercials.''
Americans, on the other hand, are glued to their seats.
"They're excited to see what's this new ad going to be? There's a certain mystique and an aura, and there's a history behind these commercials. There's always something unique to look forward to, and unfortunately that's not the case for Canadian viewers.''
Thankfully, Bontis says, it's a new age in terms of technology -- and this year, the Internet is enabling Canadians to see the ads as soon as they've aired.
During the game on Sunday, AOL Canada will stream the U.S. commercials on aol.ca/superbowl. As well, www.YouTube.com is almost certain to have the commercials pop up almost immediately after they've aired.
"There's even online communities where people can watch the commercials and vote on them right away, so it's certainly a whole new world,'' Bontis said. "A few years ago, Canadians couldn't see them at all.''