Link to home

News from the open internet


How programmatic is changing the game for live sports in Canada

A pole vaulter vaults over a streaming UI progress bar.

Illustration by Nick DeSantis / Shutterstock / The Current

Canada is abuzz with hockey right now. The Toronto Maple Leafs enter game six of the NHL playoffs against the Boston Bruins on Thursday. And yesterday, the Edmonton Oilers dispatched the Los Angeles Kings to become the first Canadian team to advance to the 2024 NHL playoffs.

Hockey taking over Canada isn’t anything new, of course. But a more recent development is that advertisers have more ways than ever to engage with that sport and others in the region, thanks to its availability on streaming platforms.

That was a hot topic during a panel at Forward ’24 in Toronto on Wednesday, an event hosted by The Trade Desk to shine a spotlight on the growth of the connected TV (CTV) marketplace in Canada, and the opportunity this represents for advertisers. And as ever, it’s live sports that’s proving to be a big draw, whether that’s hockey or the Paris Olympics this summer.

At the event, CBC/Radio-Canada announced that it’s now offering its inventory programmatically for the first time, in a partnership with The Trade Desk, ahead of airing the Olympics this summer via its CBC Gem streaming app. GiGi Forth, executive director of national and corporate sales at CBC and Radio-Canada Media Solutions called it a “first of its kind” partnership in Canada.

From left to right: The Trade Desk's Christos Nikitopoulos, CBC's Gigi Forth and Rogers Sports and Media's Andrew Myers. Photo credit: Live Media

The company is projecting 56% of Olympic inventory to be available through CTV, Forth added.

The CBC isn’t alone in making this move. On April 25, Rogers Communications and the National Hockey League struck a deal giving Amazon Prime Video exclusive rights to broadcast Prime Monday Night Hockey.

Live sports “are the moments that bring Canadians together and creates that emotional connection,” VP of Data Analytics and Insights at Rogers Sports & Media Andrew Myers said during the panel. “We know the value is there, we know the audience is there, and over the last 18 months, we’ve figured out how to bring advertisers there, too.”

These shifts reflect the shift in viewing habits, as more and more Canadians are streaming live sports over a CTV device.

According to a January survey of 503 Canadian adults with an internet-connected TV, LG Ad Solutions found that just 28% watched live sports only via cable, satellite or antenna, meaning the other 72% used streaming apps to some extent; 39% mostly or only did. 28% used three or more streaming apps to watch sports.

Myers noted that he’s observed the viewing shifts firsthand on Rogers-owned Sportsnet+, noting that 2.5 million people have tuned in to live sports on the platform in the last week alone.

He said the biggest lesson he’s learned for advertisers bidding programmatically is to “understand the schedule.”

“Audiences are different, and the scale of the audience is different for each sport,” he said during the panel. Programmatic offers advertisers the tools to better find and understand those audiences in real time.

He also stressed that advertisers can find a way to complement their linear and digital TV strategies.

“There is a chance that a lot of investment goes towards walled gardens that are U.S. owned,” Myers said. “We now have an opportunity to have investments in Canada stay in Canada. The investments that were always going to be in [linear] TV, the same can be true of digital now, which may not have always been the case.”

The Current is owned and operated by The Trade Desk, Inc.