Bell’s Superbowl ad prices reflect company’s belief it will overturn CRTC decision

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Bell Media is still hoping to hold out against the Canadian television regulator’s decision to ban the simultaneous substitution of high-profile U.S. Superbowl ads with Canadian ads.

Much like it did this year, the media subsidiary held by BCE is setting ad prices for the 2018 Superbowl under the presumption that it will overturn the 2015 decision, according to a report from The Globe and Mail.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission banned simsub in response to Canadian complaints about not seeing the flashy American ads that have become a large part of the Superbowl’s overall entertainment value, giving Bell Media until the 2017 game to make the change.

Bell Media, the NFL and representatives of the Canadian advertising industry disagreed with this choice, however. The media company pushed back by selling ads for those slots at aspirational simsub prices and taking its case to the Federal Court of Appeal.

It was only granted leave to appeal in November 2016, however — too late to overturn the decision for the 2017 game. Instead, the company was forced to revise down prices by about 35 percent based on the loss of audience, losing tens of thousands of dollars for every national network ad and forcing it to offer some customers alternate ad space in order to make good on their promises.

Bell has generally sold ads for between $150,000 and $190,000 for 30 seconds in recent broadcasts.

The company said the lower prices and fewer sales led to an $11 million decline in Super Bowl advertising revenue for the 2017 game, a 60 percent decrease from 2016.

If the decision is not overturned this year, Bell will put itself in the same predicament once more.

Though there is no single price for a Superbowl ad — due to variables including when it airs and whether it is part of a larger agreement — Bell has generally sold ads for between $150,000 and $190,000 for 30 seconds in recent broadcasts, according to sources cited by The Globe and Mail. 

In addition to drawing in less revenue for the 2017 Superbowl, the game itself drew less viewership. It brought in an average audience of 4.47 million on Bell’s CTV, CTV Two and TSN – a significant 39 percent drop from the 7.32 million people who tuned in on CTV alone the previous year.

It’s unclear what precisely caused the downswing, but The Globe and Mail points to, at least in part, Canadian viewers migrating to the U.S. Super Bowl feed on Fox.

Bell, naturally, blames the around 40 percent downturn on the simsub decision.

Source: The Globe and Mail