CTV, Global, CBC, CITY, OMNI, TVA, V, SRC… Conventional television refers to free television services operating over the air, including catch-up TV services and simulcasts online. These services are local/regional stations that often make up national networks. In total, Canada is home to 120 conventional television services—93 private, 27 public. Of the private services, 67 are English-language and 20 are French-language. Of the public services, 14 are English-language and 13 are French-language.Footnote 1
Broad reach, shrinking share, most popular shows. These broad-based, general-interest news and entertainment services have ensconced themselves in the daily lives of Canadians. Each week, conventional TV reaches 87% of the national audience, including 85% of the English-language audience and 94% of the French-language audience. Its share of the TV audience has gotten smaller as niche discretionary TV services have emerged. In 2017, conventional TV had a 37% share of the TV audience in the English-language market and a 49% share in the Quebec French-language market. Though its audience share has gotten smaller, conventional TV channels are still the primary home for top shows.
Single source of revenue in decline. Almost all of private conventional TV’s revenues come from advertising (93%). Conventional TV remains a very effective medium for marketers looking to promote their brands, but it is facing increasing competition from discretionary TV services and online advertisers and its advertising revenue is in decline. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) is also facing pressure on its advertising revenue but remains an exception since it receives most of its funding from parliamentary appropriations.
Dependence on BDU distribution. While conventional TV’s origins lie in free local broadcasting, the TV distribution market has significantly transformed. Conventional TV transmitters are typically now only available in urban markets. Most of the audience for conventional TV services comes from redistribution on cable, satellite and fibre TV services (82% in the English-language market; 88% in Quebec French-language market).