The NFL has lost a Canadian court battle seeking to stop network CTV from airing American Super Bowl ads. CTV was seeking to overturn a 2015 ruling from Canada’s version of the FCC, the CRTC, that it could not substitute its own ads on the Big Game.
A Canadian appeals court ruled that the NFL can license the Super Bowl to CTV, but can’t dictate how or which commercials can air on the program:
“The appellants argue, and I agree, that there is a certain irony that legislation that has the protection of the Canadian broadcasting industry and its employees as one of its important objectives is being used to allow for the broadcasting of American ads during the Super Bowl to the apparent detriment of the Canadian industry and its employees,” Justice David Near wrote in a Dec. 18 decision for the court obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
The court ruled that the NFL failed to prove that CTV had to maximize its revenue by airing its own ads on the Super Bowl in place of the American commercials. The NFL also argued that CTV had to air its own spots so it could increase the value of Canadian broadcast rights when they came up for renewal.
Back in February, Super Bowl LI aired on CTV, CTV Two and TSN. But the fact that it could not air Canadian ads led much of the TV audience to switch to the Fox broadcast feed. And the audience for the networks for the game averaged 4.47 million viewers, down 39% from the year before. CTV hopes that the CRTC will rescind its 2015 ruling.
So unless the CRTC reverses its decision before February, Canadians will be able to watch NBC’s feed of Super Bowl LII with all of the American ads on CTV and its family of networks.