Ross Lincoln is a Deadline contributor.
In both the U.S. and Canada, the Super Bowl is the biggest TV event of the year. But unlike Americans, a 2012 poll showed that more Canadians planned to watch the ads rather than the game itself. Unfortunately most of the big-budget commercials in Sunday’s game aren’t available to Canadian viewers. The result, according to CBC, is a yearly rush on TV antennas by Canadians living close to the US-Canada border. In the Great White North, stations pay a fee for the right to air the Super Bowl in individual markets. That fee doesn’t include the right to air ads from the U.S. broadcast (due to royalties issues, regional ad strategies and the way media is segregated between different countries). These stations sell their own ad time at a much cheaper rate. While the U.S. ads quickly appear online, Canadian regulations have created what Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos called “almost third-world access” to the Internet. Extremely low data caps and huge fees for exceeding them make streaming video dicey for Canadians. The best option for people living close to the U.S. is to get a pair of rabbit ears and catch the signal from U.S. TV stations.
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The trade is so brisk, according to one Windsor, Ontario-based provider of TV and radio accessories, post-Christmas sales on HDTVs come with additional deals on antennas, with a huge spike in requests in weeks prior to the game. That’s unlikely to change barring an adjustment in regulations and reciprocal cross-border copyright arrangements. It might be worth exploring though. Google notes that Canadian searches for ‘Super Bowl Commercials’ were 6% higher in Canada than in the U.S. on Super Bowl Sunday 2012.