Thu. Feb 21st, 2019

Trump’s NAFTA Replacement Effects Super Bowl

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell took time to praise President Donald Trump earlier this week on the completion of the new USMCA Deal. It may seem odd to have the commissioner of a league that Trump bashes whenever he wants to score points with his base offer the President praise. He has certainly faced some backlash for it in the media, but in a statement released by the NFL, Goodell notes that the new deal offers “a resolution to our intellectual property issue in Canada”.

The specific intellectual property in question is Super Bowl commercials. Until 2017, Canadian cable and satellite operators would simultaneously substitute (or “simsub”) the commercials on the American broadcast of the Super Bowl for ones purchased in Canada. While this wouldn’t effect people watching the official Canadian broadcast, it did effect Canadians watching the game on whatever US network had that year’s broadcast rights. It is common for Canadian television providers to offer the four major American networks via local affiliates near the border.

Andrew Bucholtz has a very detailed breakdown of the simsub debate and what it has meant for Canadian television over at Awful Announcing. For though, let’s stick to how this particularly effected the Super Bowl.

There are very few events where commercials are part of the appeal. The biggest of these is, of course, the Super Bowl. For years, there was no way for Canadians to see the high concept American ads on broadcast television. That was until a 2017 Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission ruling that deemed the simsub practice illegal. The NFL lobbied the White House to put an end to the practice, and it seems the league got its way.

This is expected to help the NFL as it negotiates its next round of Canadian broadcast rights. Bell Media, the current rights holder in Canada, reported that the ruling against the simsub practice cost the company $8.5 million (US) in ad revenue for Super Bowl LII. While Canadian broadcasters do not charge nearly as much as American ones do for ad space during the Super Bowl, it is still valuable air time. Not having it to sell makes the NFL a less valuable property in the Canadian market.