Changing channels: TV, radio consumption declines, online video up

About a quarter of Canadians are now watching TV online, according to a CRTC report released yesterday.

Canadians’ use of mobile and internet services shows no signs of slowing down, but it is a different story when it comes to their intake of programs on traditional broadcasting platforms, according to a report released yesterday by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commission (CRTC).

What consumers are doing online isn’t that much different from years past; consumption of broadcasting content was among the most popular activities online, with 25% of anglophones reporting that they have watched a TV program on the internet and about 18% have listened to a radio station’s audio stream.

The CRTC report provides a wide-ranging scope of data for the telecommunications and broadcasting industry, including changes in annual revenues, viewing and listener share by the major networks, and the amount of time spent on each medium.

Time spent

National average weekly radio consumption decreased 3.2% from 18.3 hours in 2008 to 17.7 hours in 2009. That figure drops to 12 hours per week for adults aged 18 to 24, while teens only listened to the radio an average 6.8 hours per week, according to the study.

Teens were also the most likely age group to reduce their television consumption in 2009 – they spent an average 16.6 hours per week watching TV, down 4.6% from the previous year. The national average weekly consumption however remains steady at 26.5 hours per week, down 0.4% from the previous year. But among the 18-to-34 age group, 20.6 hours per week were spent watching TV, down 2.4%.

Drama and comedy programs were the most popular genres, but we are still huge fans of non-Canadian content. In 2009, 79% of English-language programs were non-Canadian, and 68% were made outside of the country.

English and French Canadians are watching a lot of video online – 52% of anglophones reported watching some form of video broadcast on the web, and 44% of francophones. Their time doing so amounts to 2.2 hours per week for anglos and 1.3 hours per week for francos. Online video viewing was up 15% in 2009 over 2007 statistics.

By the end of the year, there were 8.3 million broadband internet subscribers in Canada.


Revenues for the broadcasting industry rose 3% to $14.4 billion in 2009, but this growth was primarily driven by the distribution of television signals and by the specialty and pay television sector, which recorded increases of 7.4% and 5.8%, respectively.

These gains were offset by a drop in advertising revenue. The effects were felt most strongly by conventional television stations and radio stations, whose revenues declined by 7.4% and 5.2%, respectively.

More specifically, ad revenues for CBC’s English-language TV stations were down 24% in 2009. French-language stations fared slightly better as they were down 7% over the previous year.

Private conventional stations were down 9% in ad revenue in English Canada, and down 11% on French-language stations.

Market share and penetration rates

CTVglobemedia has the highest viewing share of Canadian services in the English market with 33.5%, a figure that remained steady for the past four years. It is followed by Canwest, which has 22.1% of the viewing share, up 9% since 2007.

Corus has 10% of the viewing share, while CBC has 8.8% and Rogers 7.9% in the English market.

Quebecor is still king in the French-language market with 31% of the viewing share (up 1.3% since 2008), followed by Société Radio-Canada with 18.6% and Astral with 17.3%.

In the radio sector, Corus Entertainment, which owns 50 radio stations across Canada, is the largest operator with 15% of the market share (58,968 hours). It is closely followed by Astral, which owns 83 radio stations and has the same percentage share (15%) of the market, but with 58,846 hours.

Rogers Broadcasting grew slightly and now has 13% of the market share and CTVglobemedia also increased its hold by 1% and now has 10% of the market.

The ability to stream and download high-quality broadcasting content was available through broadband internet to nearly every home through a variety of service providers, according to the CRTC. In addition, the percentage of Canadians that could access the internet using their cellphones went from 91% to 96% in one year.