Television in Canada - Statistics & Facts

From its beginning in the late 1940s until today, the history of Canadian television industry is in many ways tied to that of the United States. In fact, the influence of Canada’s southern neighbor started before the establishment of the first local television station, when many Canadians living close to the U.S. border were accessing American television content from cities such as Cleveland, Seattle or Detroit as early as 1946. The first Canadian television stations (CBLT in Toronto and CBFT in Montreal) were not launched until 1952, under the banner of the government-created CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). At that time, owning a TV set was still considered somewhat of a luxury and television itself a modern-era wonder. Some 65 years later, over 90 percent of Canadian households have active television connections, with the majority of them being through digital cable.

For a few years after its launch, the CBC was the only broadcaster in the country, with each private television being required by law to affiliate with it. However, by 1960, increased pressure to diversify television programs led to a more open market and the launch of the country’s first private broadcaster, CTV. Today, the television industry has greatly diversified and CBC has gone from being the only TV provider to the one with the least revenues, while specialty, pay, pay-per-view (PPV) and video on demand (VOD) services have experienced consistently high revenue totals. The main source of revenue for the television market in Canada, as in most other countries, is represented by TV advertising, with conventional and specialty ads bringing the most revenues, but with online advertising revenues slowly growing in the past years.

Between 2014 and 2017, the market value of Canada’s broadcasting and cable TV industry fell from 6.7 to 4.6 billion dollars, a decline of over 30 percent. The total number of TV stations operating in Canada has continued to increase throughout the years, reaching 780 in 2016. CTV, the first private television network in Canada, is also the largest privately owned network in the country and is frequently one of the best rated among user preferences. Its parent company, the telecommunications and media company Bell Canada (BCE), generates the largest share of the total commercial television revenues in the country. Bell’s largest competitors include Telus, Shaw Communications, Rogers Communications, and Quebecor. Shaw Communications is a provider of telephone, Internet and television services, as well as mass media related services, and Rogers Communications operates as a diversified public communications and media company.

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