Current trends - Broadcasting

The data in this publication has been made available on Open Data in Excel and CSV format. View this on Open Data.

Sources: Joint CRTC-Statistics Canada Quarterly Survey and Guideline powered by Standard Media Index

Mini-methodology & definitions

The data on BDU revenues and subscribers is representative of over 90% of this segment of the communications industry, excluding video-based services such as Netflix or Spotify. The data is collected on a quarterly basis and is not adjusted for seasonality. In this report, revenues and subscribers are not allocated to a segment based on an entities’ primary method for delivering services to subscribers. As such, subscribers and revenues of an entity offering both IPTV and Cable technologies would be divided between both categories.

  • BDU refers to Broadcasting Distribution Undertakings from Cable, IPTV and DTH and excludes Internet-based services (e.g. Netflix) and telecommunications services (e.g. Internet access or telephony).
  • Cable refers to the distribution of cable television delivered to customers over fibre-optic or coaxial cables.
  • DTH, or Direct-to-Home satellite broadcasting, refers to the distribution of television signals from satellites to small dish and satellite receivers.
  • IPTV, or Internet Protocol Television, refers to television content delivered over a closed network, typically requiring a set-top-box before the content is displayed on a TV (e.g. Bell Fibe or Telus Optik TV). IPTV excludes Internet-based services such as Netflix and Crave.
  • Other services refer to any services that cannot be categorized as cable, DTH or IPTV. For the purpose of this analysis "Other" has been rolled into DTH.
  • Revenues refer to the broadcasting-related revenues generated from broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDU) such as cable, IPTV, DTH and other broadcasting services.
  • Subscribers are the number of individual subscriptions to a service.

Canadian Agency Advertising Gross Spending

The data on gross agency advertising spending across Canada is aggregated by Guideline powered by Standard Media Index (SMI) in conjunction with agency partners. This data allows for a real-world view into agency advertising spend by product category, ad revenue to media publishers and digital platforms. The data available accounts for over 94% of national agency spend within the media ecosystem. Contained within this dataset is the gross agency advertising spending by media type and market. This represents only a portion of the total advertising market within Canada from calendar years 2018-2023.

  • Gross Ad spend refers to the total gross amount spent on advertising through the SMI pool of agencies.
  • Market refers to the physical region in which the purchased advertising will run. For example: the Canadian TV market where an ad is broadcast.
  • Market share refers to the percentage of the market associated to a particular category.
  • Media types *
    • Digital
      • Ad Network/Ad Exchange refers to properties that aggregate inventory and audiences from numerous sources or provide a technology platform for automated auction-based buying in real-time.
      • Print – Digital refers to the digital arm to print media (magazine, newspapers, etc.) properties that fall under the SMI Print media type.
      • Pure-Play Content refers todigital media properties in which the core business is its content offering.
      • Pure-Play – Internet Radio refers to streaming music/audio properties and the digital arm to radio properties that fall under the SMI Radio media type.
      • Pure-Play Search refers to digital media properties where search engines are the core business.
      • Pure-Play Social refers to digital media properties in which the core business is its social media offering.
      • Pure-Play Video refers to digital media properties where the core business is its video offering.
      • TV Network – Digital refers to the digital arm to TV Network (cable, broadcast, etc.) properties that fall under the SMI Television media type.
    • Linear Television
      • Ad Sales House refers to agency bookings where the vendor is a third-party sales group which sells advertising inventory on behalf of media owners. This includes, but is not limited to, rep firms, media targeting, barter, and ad tech companies.
      • Conventional TV refers to national broadcast television networks (i.e. CBC, Global, TVA).
      • Specialty TV refers to national cable television networks (i.e. TSN, MTV, Discovery).
      • Spot TV refers to local owned & operated network television as well as Local TV affiliates (i.e. CFTO, CHAN, CFJP, etc.).
    • Magazines refers to consumer, trade, and newspaper magazines.
    • Newspaper refers to expenditure made to media such as main masthead newspapers in large cities (Dailies), community newspapers and in business journals.
    • Other refers to other forms of advertising such as Direct Mail marketing in which messages are sent to target customers through the mail.
    • Out of Home refers to expenditures made to media such as billboards, ads in cinema, stadiums, and arenas, on transit, on street furniture and retail, at events and any out of home digital content.
    • Radio
      • Spot Radio refers to the expenditure from spots that are not sold nationally i.e. local spots booked onto one or more stations (CHFI, CHUM, CHBM, etc.).
  • Quarter refers to a three-month period within the year often associated with the fiscal calendar. Here Q1 refers to January-March, Q2 April-June, Q3 July-September, and Q4 October-December.

*Definitions taken directly from SMI Client Report: Dataminer User Guide.

Key takeaways

  • A shift on the horizon? The BDU sector’s revenues and subscribers have seen decline in recent years as alternative forms of media have added competition to the market.


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  • Agency advertising trends: Guideline powered by Standard Media Index (SMI) covers 94% of the agency advertising market in Canada. This provides insight into agency advertising gross spending trends in Canada. This data does not include advertising gross spending outside of the Guideline pool of agencies (i.e. advertising purchased without the use of an agency or advertising purchased with agencies outside the Guideline pool of agencies).
  • Broadcasting insights: The digital agency advertising gross spending includes all digital advertising (the majority of which is not related to broadcasting) and tends to be at the national level. Additionally, Guideline’s data does not capture advertising purchased outside of agencies, which means a significant portion of radio advertising is not represented in this data as radio is very locally driven.
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