Today is the biggest day from a TV standpoint. After all, today is the Super Bowl, the one day we truly celebrate … the commercials.
From a sports standpoint, I would much rather be in Canada 364 days out of the year: the exception is Super Bowl Sunday.
If I were in Canada on Super Bowl Sunday, I could also watch the CBC hockey telecast of New Jersey at Montréal. But I wouldn't be able to watch the most exciting part of the Super Bowl telecast: the commercials.
CTV will carry the game in Canada. Now you might note that Fox, home of the Super Bowl in the United States, is available on cable systems in Canada and over-the-air for those who live really close to the border.
Yes, but on those cable systems, CTV blocks out Fox's feed and substitutes its broadcast on the Fox channels. This means that Canadians are stuck watching Canadian commercials instead of the heralded Super Bowl ads.
Sim sub, or simultaneous substitution, allows, during a live broadcast, the power to substitute a Canadian feed over the same U.S. show. This happens in countless countries throughout the world, but none of those countries can easily pick up U.S. TV signals.
Canadians had a better advantage when U.S. signals were analog, because picking up an over-the-air feed of a U.S. channel allows a viewer to see U.S. commercials. Digital signals don't travel as far as analog signals. (Canadian channels still have analog signals, so in trying to do the opposite, U.S. viewers have a better shot.)
Outside of Toronto and Hamilton (to Buffalo) and Windsor (to Detroit), Canadians picking up OTA U.S. signals need strong antennas and a bit of luck, depending on distance and the strength of the Fox signal in their area. Detroit's Fox signal is much stronger than the CBS signal, for example.
If you live on the U.S. side, you can't get TSN; likewise in Canada, you can't get ESPN, though TSN carries a lot of ESPN programming. Some along the border can get CBC and CTV from Canada and the major networks from the United States, all without cable, but often with cable.
Of course, Canadians can watch the ads online after the game, but if they don't want to wait, there might be options for them. Interestingly, one of the options for Canadians with cable is a feature I would love to see in the United States: time shifting.
Cable viewers in Vancouver can see U.S. and Canadian over-the-air channels from Detroit, watching programming as it happens live from the East Coast. Cable viewers in Seattle don't have that option. And play it around for the East Coast: miss your favorite show or was part of it pre-empted? Those in Eastern Canada can also watch West Coast U.S. and Canadian channels and catch the program later in the day or night. Those in the Eastern part of the United States don't have that option.
So whichever side of the border you live, enjoy the Super Bowl. Hopefully, you will get to watch the Super Bowl ads. And for U.S. viewers near the border who don't want the ads, try watching the game on a CTV station.