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Super Bowl ratings drop 39 per cent on Bell Media channels as CRTC ad policy takes effect

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EDITOR’S NOTE: In a previous version of this story The Canadian Press erroneously reported that Super Bowl ratings were down 39 per cent in Canada. In fact, ratings were down 39 per cent only on Bell Media channels CTV, CTV Two and TSN.

NEW YORK – Super Bowl ratings were down 39 per cent on Bell Media channels this year, a drop the national rights-holder blamed on a CRTC decision mandating this year’s game feed from Fox not be substituted with a Canadian signal.

The New England Patriots’ 34-28 overtime win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night drew an average audience of 4.47 million viewers on CTV, CTV Two, and TSN, a Bell Media spokesman said in an email.

READ MORE: CRTC grants access to U.S. Super Bowl commercials, but silent on future of local TV

“It’s the outcome we predicted despite our efforts to mitigate the audience loss, and the support of the Canadian companies that stepped up to advertise on the domestic broadcast,” said Scott Henderson, Bell Media vice-president, communications. “The CRTC’s decision is clearly having a direct and negative impact on Canadian viewers, advertisers, and the broader broadcasting and creative community. We’ll continue our fight alongside the NFL to reverse it.”

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Last year’s Super Bowl between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers drew an average audience of 7.32 million on CTV.

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Citing complaints from Canadian viewers, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ruled in 2015 that simultaneous substitution of Canadian spots over the star-studded American ads played during the Super Bowl would no longer be allowed.

The ruling kicked in for this year’s championship game.

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Fox drew an audience of 111.3 million viewers during the game, falling just shy of the audience for football’s ultimate game over the last three years.

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The Nielsen company said that the top Super Bowl audience – and the biggest for any American TV show – was the 114.4 million who saw the New England Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks in 2015.

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That 2015 game also had a last-minute ending, but couldn’t match this year, when the Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime. The late rally may actually have handicapped Fox: The Falcons led 28-3 at one point and the game was looking like a rout.

Last year’s Denver-Carolina game reached an audience of 111.9 million.