Canadian Television FAQs
For general questions related to Canadian media, see our Canada 101 section.
There are three ways U.S. stations can spill into Canada: U.S. Broadcast stations via antenna, U.S. Broadcast stations via Cable, and U.S. Cable stations. Canadian broadcasters use simulcasting and other measures to reduce the number of Canadian households who view U.S. ads.
U.S. Broadcast Stations Via Antenna
- 4 markets are close enough to receive signals via antenna: Buffalo > Toronto, Seattle > Vancouver, Burlington/Plattsburgh > Montreal, and Detroit > Windsor
- Canadian HHs in these markets can pick up the U.S. signal including the U.S. ads
- Cable/satellite systems carry the same U.S. stations to reduce the amount of viewership via antenna
- An estimated 4% of US commercials from these 4 border markets are seen in Canada
- U.S. broadcast stations are available via cable/satellite in all Canadian markets (For example, Calgary and Edmonton are able to view Spokane broadcast stations via cable, but unable to view Spokane via antenna)
- When a program is simulcast on the Canadian & U.S. station, both feeds show the Canadian ads (For example, Survivor will air Wed 8-9 on Global and CBS; both channels show the Canadian ads)
- Canadian broadcasters try to simulcast as much as possible to avoid U.S. ads from being seen
- Top 75 prime programs and the majority of the popular daytime properties are shown via simulcast
- Usually news properties and lower rated programs are not simulcast and therefore contain U.S. ads
- An estimated 8% of U.S. commercials from all of the U.S. Broadcast stations carried in Canada are seen via non-simulcast programming
- 14 U.S. cable nets are carried by Canadian cable providers in Canada (top 7 are A&E, TLC, CNN, AMC, TCM, Speed, Headline News)
- Canadian cable providers insert promotional pieces over the U.S. ads that are part of the cable stations network feed (pay-per-view trailers, bundle deals, premium packages)
- An estimated 15% of U.S. commercials from the 14 cable nets are seen in Canada
Many of the American programs that are shown in Canada are simulcast to reduce the effect of U.S. stations spilling into Canada. Simulcasting occurs when a broadcast program airing in the United States is shown in Canada on a Canadian station at the same time. When programs in Canada are simulcast, the commercials from an American station that spills into Canada are not seen in favor of the commercials airing on the Canadian station. Some U.S. cable networks are carried by Canadian cable operators. When these stations are re-broadcast, the commercials are pre-empted and the cable operator airs promotional material.
There are a number of broadcast groups in Canada. The major players include Corus, Bell Media, Rogers, and CBC, which focus on English-speaking households and English-speaking stations, while Quebecor, Radio-Canada and V focus on French-speaking households and French-speaking stations.
In the United States, broadcast networks air one feed that is seen simultaneously throughout the Eastern, Central, and Mountain time zones. In Canada, each time zone delays their programming so it can be seen at the same scheduled time. However, live sporting events and some specials are aired throughout the country simultaneously regardless of time zone. Ontario and Quebec are located in the Eastern Time Zone, Manitoba and Saskatchewan are in the Central Time Zone, Alberta is in the Mountain Time Zone, British Columbia is in the Pacific Time Zone, and the Atlantic provinces are an hour ahead of the Eastern Time Zone with Newfoundland :30 minutes further ahead. Cable television in Canada operates on a network feed only, and airs programs simultaneously throughout Canada.
When a spot is bought in Canada, it will not be pre-empted for a spot at a higher rate. This is the standard regardless of any movie, or local business that may arise.
Once an order is booked, the first four weeks of the flight are non-cancelable. Any remaining weeks can be cancelled with 4 weeks notice. Specials and sporting events are non-cancelable.
Sponsorship opportunities are available during many programs, specials, and sporting events. They are similar to those found in the United States. Product placement is also available, but requires approval from the producers of the program.
Before any type of commercial can go to air in Canada it must first be approved by one of the two review committees. This is true for broadcast and specialty channels that air in Canada. CBC Advertising Standards Committee reviews all tapes that are to be broadcast on CBC’s networks. The TVB reviews all tapes that are to be seen on all of the other stations in Canada. Once a tape is received by a committee it is approved or denied within 1-3 business days. When a commercial is deemed acceptable, an approval code is granted and the tape is ready to air. When a commercial is not deemed acceptable, the changes necessary for approval are listed and an updated version would need to be reviewed before approval is granted.
Canadian stations require creative material and traffic instructions 5 working days prior to the beginning of the flight. Not meeting this requirement can result in a portion of your order being pre-empted.
Nielsen/Numeris is Canada’s rating service and is used throughout all of the television markets. Nielsen/Numeris issues annually a fall, spring, and summer book to track all programs airing within a 3-4 week time period. The Nielsen rating service has been adapted for use in the markets of Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver where daily numbers are reported for the stations in those markets. The demographic audience options for Canada are Male, Female, or Total Adults; within the age groups of 12-17, 18+, 18-34, 18-49, 25-54, and 50+. The stations can provide estimates for other demos, but will not guarantee against those estimates.