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Television broadcasting, 2015

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Released: 2016-07-05

Sales from air time, private conventional television

$1.8 billion



(annual change)

The Canadian television broadcasting sector reported total operating revenues of $7.4 billion in 2015, down 2.1% from 2014. Profits before interest and taxes fell 12.4% from $836.9 million in 2014 to $732.8 million in 2015.

These decreases were attributable to air time sales, which declined 4.9% from $3.4 billion in 2014 to $3.2 billion in 2015.

The private conventional television segment's share of operating revenues in the television broadcasting sector regained some strength. In 2015, this segment generated $1.9 billion in operating revenues, representing 25.5% of the sector's total operating revenues, up from 24.0% in 2014. Specialty television (47.3%) continued to increase its share of the market, generating $3.5 billion in operating revenues, while the public and non-commercial television segment (17.3%) and pay television segment (10.0%) accounted for the remainder of operating revenues in the television broadcasting sector.

Operating revenues for the public and non-commercial television segment fell 14.8% to $1.3 billion in 2015. Advertising sales for this segment were down 52.2% from $486.3 million in 2014 to $232.3 million in 2015.

These decreases were mainly attributable to the absence of sporting events in 2015, such as the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games, which occurred in 2014. The transfer of the National Hockey League's rights from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to private television stations also affected the results of this segment.

The public and non-commercial television segment's operating expenses decreased 15.3% from $1.5 billion in 2014 to $1.3 billion in 2015. This reduction was attributable to programming expenses, which fell from $984.0 million in 2014 to $770.0 million in 2015. However, this segment recorded losses of $11.0 million in 2015, down 51.1% from the loss in 2014. The segment posted a gross profit margin of -0.9% in 2015.

Despite a 2.2% increase in its operating revenues, the specialty television segment posted a 2.6% decrease in profits before interest and taxes in 2015, bringing the profit margin to 25.3%. Operating expenses rose 3.9% to $2.6 billion, mainly due to a $97.1 million gain in programming expenses.

The pay television segment generated $60.0 million in profits before interest and taxes, bringing the gross profit margin to 0.01%. Pay television and specialty television were the only segments to post a profit in 2015.

Air time sales in the Canadian television broadcasting sector continue to fall

Air time sales, the most important component of revenues, fell 4.9% to $3.2 billion in 2015, continuing the downward trend that began in 2012, despite a 6.0% increase in sales for the private television segment. The public and non-commercial, specialty, and pay television segments recorded lower air time sales in 2015. Recent technological changes, including new broadcasting platforms for television programming (such as websites or mobile phones), have had a considerable impact on this sector's financial results.

The decline in the television broadcasting sector's air time sales in 2015 was slightly offset by an increase in subscription revenues, which edged up 0.2% from 2014 to $2.9 billion in 2015.

The market share of air time sales for private conventional television surpassed the 50% mark, totalling 54.5% in 2015. In comparison, the market share of advertising sales was 38.3% for the specialty television segment and 7.2% for the public and non-commercial television segment.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Market share (air time) by type of broadcaster
Market share (air time) by type of broadcaster

Private conventional television in Quebec records loss for second consecutive year

Private conventional television in Quebec reported a loss before interest and taxes for the second consecutive year in 2015. It recorded a loss of $11.7 million in 2015, compared with a loss of $12.3 million the previous year.

The loss in 2015 was due to operating revenues, which decreased 5.0% to $373.3 million. National advertising sales posted the largest decline in revenues, down 6.2% from $241.3 million in 2014 to $226.5 million in 2015. Operating expenses fell 5.0% to $385.0 million.

Losses in other Canadian regions

The private conventional television segment in three other Canadian regions—the Atlantic provinces, Ontario and the western provinces—also had losses before interest and taxes in 2015. In the Atlantic provinces, a $14.8 million loss in 2015 followed a $15.5 million loss in 2014. A 1.7% increase in operating revenues, combined with a 0.5% rise in operating expenses, was responsible for the loss in 2015.

In Ontario, operating revenues were up 11.5% from $779.4 million in 2014 to $868.8 million in 2015. Operating expenses rose 9.6% to $928.1 million, generating a loss of $59.2 million.

Private conventional television stations in the western provinces recorded a $57.4 million loss before interest and taxes in 2015, 7.5% larger than the $53.4 million loss in 2014. The loss in 2015 was mainly due to a 0.6% increase in operating expenses to $633.2 million. Operating revenues also contributed to the loss, edging down 0.1% to $575.7 million.

Total operating revenues for the Canadian private conventional television segment grew 3.9% to $1.9 billion in 2015. Operating expenses rose 3.3% to $2.0 billion, leading to a loss of $143.1 million and a profit margin before interest and taxes of -7.6%.

From 2005 to 2015, weak annual average revenue growth for sales of air time in the industry affected employment, with the number of workers in the Canadian television broadcasting sector falling 19.1% from 22,259 to 17,997.

  Note to readers

Until 2012, Statistics Canada published data as provided by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Starting with the 2013 reference year, data on the pay and specialty television segments are processed by Statistics Canada.

To ensure comparability between data prior to 2013 and data for 2013 onward, data were subjected to several quality assurance processes. A comparative analysis revealed that data processing—using Statistics Canada's standard processes—resulted in revision differences of less than 2% compared with the data originally published in 2013.

For a detailed explanation of error detection, imputation and quality evaluation, see the Radio and Television Broadcasting Survey (2724) page on our website.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Dany Gravel (613-864-1350;, Investment, Science and Technology Division.

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