Yep, Canadians don’t get to see the Super Bowl ads when Americans do — we have to watch them on our computers another time.
So Colby Cosh writes:
The CRTC made its decision partly because everyone agrees that the substituted advertising is always disappointing. It gave the commission the opportunity to do something populist that would reverse its own political reputation as a force-feeder of dismal CanCon, a drearifier of Canadian media.
But it also made the decision partly because a regulator loves to have documents to act upon. (…)
My first instinct, at the time, was to applaud. Give us the cool American ads, just for one day! But then I remembered how I actually watch the Super Bowl every year: at a bachelor friend’s annual party for football fans. We get together to make friendly wagers (fine, they’re unfriendly and vicious), eat pizza at halftime, and make cutting remarks about Bill Belichick or Eli Manning. There is beer and there are snacks.
What there aren’t is… er, what there isn’t are… what I mean to say is that there’s nobody around who has no use for football. No one is present just because they live in that house with the host, and no one is just tagging along. This means that, for us eccentrics who think of the Super Bowl primarily as a football game, the commercials serve their traditional televisory function of giving the viewer a break. The American ads are fun, but if you ever want to have a pee, or reload your beer, or make a particularly trenchant and complex observation about Tom Brady’s stupid hairdo without shouting, you are bound to do it during the commercial break. (…)
The easiest way for a viewer at a football-centric party to take in the American ads is to do what Bell Media has been urging: go watch them on YouTube all at once after the game. But in an ordinary household, the game really isn’t just about the game, or mostly about it. The ads give non-NFL fans a way to hang out and enjoy the broadcast. They allow for the existence of Super Bowl parties that aren’t clubby male-bonding exercises for degenerate gamblers and Fathead collectors. They let couples in which there is only one football fan share the biggest TV event of the year. I don’t want to say “they let the missus enjoy the show and have some of that awesome seven-layer dip, which, by the way, she probably made”, but in some homes that is probably how it works.
All of this is to say that the CRTC had a strong logical basis, or at least a pretext, for doing what it wanted to about the Super Bowl simsubs. It’s a culture regulator: it decided to treat the Super Bowl broadcast as culturally different from any other. It seems almost inarguable that it is. The success of the NFL has turned its defining event into a movable feast, a part of the shared civil religion of the continent. (…)
The mystery is why no Canadian companies ever spent much effort to make clever or artistically ambitious Canadian ads specifically for Super Bowl simsubbing purposes. Why does this controversy exist? Why didn’t we have better Super Bowl ads of our own in the first place? Is there a better answer than “unflagging Canadian devotion to mediocrity”?