Cana­dian view­ers set to see Amer­i­can Su­per Bowl ads for first time

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - BILL BRIOUX

Many Cana­di­ans are won­der­ing who will emerge victorious Sun­day in Su­per Bowl LI. Not in the game be­tween the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots and the At­lanta Fal­cons, but in the high-stakes bat­tle be­tween the Cana­dian Ra­dio-tele­vi­sion Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion and CTV.

By man­dat­ing that this year’s Fox Su­per Bowl feed not be sub­sti­tuted with a Cana­dian sig­nal, the CRTC was hop­ing to score a touch­down with Cana­dian view­ers who have been vent­ing for years about be­ing shut out of the showy, high-priced U.S. ads.

Cana­dian rights holder Bell Me­dia, claim­ing it has been hit with a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar ad rev­enue loss, has thrown a flag in protest. There’s been le­gal chal­lenges and po­lit­i­cal lob­by­ing, with even the Na­tional Foot­ball League get­ting in­volved on both sides of the bor­der.

If noth­ing changes by the time of the coin toss Sun­day, Cana­dian view­ers will fi­nally get to see the Amer­i­can Su­per Bowl ads live on through their cable and satel­lite pack­ages.

Fox Sports pres­i­dent and COO Eric Shanks had two words last month in Los An­ge­les when asked if his net­work has charged a pre­mium for ads that might reach Cana­dian view­ers this Sun­day: “I wish.”

Not that Fox is suf­fer­ing. The net­work is al­ready re­port­edly get­ting up­wards of $5 mil­lion US per 30sec­ond com­mer­cial spot dur­ing the Su­per Bowl.

The de­ci­sion to al­low the Fox feed into Canada might have cre­ated a wind­fall for U.S. bor­der sta­tions had there not been so much last­minute un­cer­tainty. Lo­cal sta­tions are al­lot­ted 13 30-se­cond spots dur­ing the game (an­other 50 or so na­tional ads are sold by the Fox net­work). Cana­dian ad­ver­tis­ers might have bought air time on Buf­falo, Detroit and other bor­der sta­tions had it been clear the CRTC rul­ing would stand.

Whether view­ers watch the Cana­dian or Amer­i­can feed, they will see at least one new in­no­va­tion this year, called “Be the Player.”

“For the first time ever,” says Shanks, “we are go­ing to be able to, inside the game, take fans inside the hel­met of any player on the field and show their per­spec­tive in real-time of what’s hap­pen­ing.”

One thing view­ers will not see is the game be­ing trans­mit­ted in 4K. Rogers Sport­sNet pro­duced and aired all Toronto Blue Jays home games in 4K last sea­son and plans to stick with the new tech­nol­ogy again this sea­son. Sport­snet also pro­duced 15 NHL games and 14 NBA games in 4K for the 2016/17 sea­son.

“There’s so few (4K) ca­pa­ble homes,” says Shanks, “that do­ing what we do and do­ing it right for that small amount of au­di­ence to­day just isn’t an in­vest­ment that prob­a­bly makes sense.”

Fox does have one 8K cam­era and four 4K cam­eras out of a to­tal of 100 cam­eras cov­er­ing the game. Shanks notes there will be 24 cam­eras in the end-zone ar­eas alone.

Kick off for Su­per Bowl LI is sched­uled for ap­prox­i­mately 6:30 p.m. The game will air in Canada on CTV, CTV Two, TSN and Fox.

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