Bell Media gives Super Bowl triple-simulcast amidst lower ad sales

The media co is driving viewers to tune into the Canadian feed with a "watch to win" contest, and has introduced a website to house the U.S. ads.

Just over a week off from the big game, Bell Media has announced a round of firsts for its upcoming Super Bowl broadcast.

For the first time the broadcaster will be airing the game in triple-simulcast, across CTV, TSN and CTV Two.

The road to the 2017 Super Bowl has been paved with controversy, with the CRTC’s banning of simultaneous substitution (simsub) of Canadian ads over simulcast U.S. broadcasts set to take effect this year.

The result for CTV is a decline in advertising sales, according to Perry MacDonald, SVP of English television and local sales at Bell Media.

While MacDonald would not tell MiC how much sales were down by, he said Bell Media was not expecting to meet last year’s audience or revenue.

“Given that we don’t have simsub with Fox for the game, we anticipate a drop in audience, and therefore our audience estimates have been revised and the rates have been revised as well,” he said. He would not share audience projections.

Canadian Super Bowl sponsors include Nissan Canada, Coca-Cola Canada, The Keg, Mazda Canada, Scotiabank, Subway, Sun Life Financial and Tim Hortons.

Numerous industry organizations, including the Association of Canadian Advertisers, Canadian Media Directors Council and the Institute of Communication Agencies, as well as Unifor, ACTRA and even U.S. politicians have spoken out against the simsub ruling, but so far both the CRTC and the government have given no indication of reversing the decision.

In addition to the triple-simulcast, Bell Media has also created the site, which will host a slate of American Super Bowl ads, showcasing the commercials as they are released in advance of the game as well as a collection of fan favourite ads from the previous season. The site is being promoted internally through some of Bell Media’s TV shows and personalities, such as the hosts of CTV’s Your Morning.

Bell Media is also incentivizing Canadians to tune into the local feed of the Super Bowl with a new “Watch to Win” contest. During the broadcast, keywords will appear on the screen, asking viewers to text the keyword to a phone number. Of those who send in the keywords, winners will be randomly selected to win prizes, including a trip to next year’s game, a 2017 Nissan Titan and $300,000 in cash prizes.

Scott Henderson, VP of communications told MiC the contest will be heavily promoted on Bell Media’s online and social channels prior to the game, with the media buy being internal.

He said the contest, as well as the triple-simulcast, is all part of an effort to maximize the number of viewers for the game given the lower projections.

“We’re going to drive people to watch the CTV broadcast,” he said. “We’re doing everything in our power to maximize the audience for the broadcast in order to protect our advertisers for the game.”

Last year’s Super Bowl broadcast on CTV brought in an estimated average audience of 7.4 million viewers across Canada for the game itself, according to Numeris, with 4.1 million tuning into the pre-game coverage and 3.8 million for the post-game coverage.

Getting the post-Super Bowl push this year is Bell Media’s Letterkenny. CTV will air the first episode of the series immediately following the Super Bowl, marking the CraveTV original’s network TV debut. This comes following the series picking up eight Canadian Screen Awards and its renewal for a third season.


Image: Shutterstock