Letterkenny lands post-Super Bowl slot

Bell Media hopes the CraveTV series will help drive viewers to the Canadian broadcast amid simsub fallout.
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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 air the game in triple-simulcast, across CTV, TSN and CTV Two.

Another first: CTV will air the first episode of Letterkenny, uncut and commercial free, immediately following the Super Bowl, marking the CraveTV original’s network TV debut. The announcement comes after the series recently picked up eight Canadian Screen Awards and was renewed for a third season.

Scott Henderson, VP of communications told Playback Daily that Bell Media made the decision for two main reasons. First, to help drive Canadians to watch the Canadian broadcast of the Super Bowl. “And two, to have Letterkenny be exposed to the widest audience as possible to drive subscriptions to CraveTV.”

The road to the 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 say how much sales were down, he told Playback sister pub Media in Canada 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.

Bell Media is 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.

Henderson told Media in Canada 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.

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