Canadian Digital Media Consumption

Many Canadians – especially younger generations who have grown up with internet access at their fingertips – are moving away from traditional media as their primary method to consume radio/television broadcasts. Online streaming services like Netflix, YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, and online radio channels are capturing more and more users who are driven by accessibility and a comparatively low cost.

As a Millennial in my mid-twenties who pays for cable and listens to the radio on a daily basis, I know that I represent a minority within my peer group. Many of my peers don’t listen to the radio, and even less pay for traditional television services such as cable. So whenever the subject comes up, my confession is generally met with a ubiquitous response: “Why don’t you watch it online?”

My response is always the same: I’d rather pay to watch sports on my 45” television than my 11” laptop or some complicated streaming setup, and I enjoy having easy access to live programs such as the news, election coverage, and the Olympics without being hindered by slow internet speeds.

Although I don’t mind paying for cable, I can understand the many reasons why more and more Canadians – especially younger Canadians – are increasingly moving toward digital platforms to consume media.

CRTC Report on the Viewing and Listening Habits of Canadians

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) recently published a report outlining the ways in which the viewing and listening habits of Canadians are transforming the broadcasting industry – specifically, radio and television.

According to CTRC’s publication, the traditional broadcasting industry is suffering from declining viewership and, consequently, revenues. Key findings include:

  • Revenues reported by the overall Canadian broadcasting sector decreased by 1.6% from $18.2 billion in 2014 to $17.9 billion in 2015.
  • Radio sector revenues remained relatively stable, decreasing 1.2% from $1.902 million in 2014 to $1.879 million in 2015.
  • Conventional television revenues decreased significantly from $3.132 million in 2014 to $2.864 million in 2015, amounting to a decrease of 8.6%. Approximately 158,000 Canadians cancelled their cable subscriptions in 2015.

Related Blog: Canada’s Digital Economy Represents a New Industrial Revolution

Shift Toward Online Platforms as Primary Method of Consuming Media

Despite trends toward cord-cutting that are leading to decreased viewership and revenues on traditional platforms, Canadians are still consuming significant amounts of content – albeit increasingly in a different format.

Whereas average weekly viewing hours for traditional television has declined by approximately 1 hour/week since 2010-2011, including dropping from 29 hours/week in 2013-2014 to 28.6 hours/week in 2014-2015, average weekly viewing hours for internet television has increased by 3.8 hours/week between 2009 and 2015.

Additionally, approximately 23% of Canadians stream AM/FM radio online and 55% of Canadians stream music videos on YouTube, whereas satellite radio subscriptions have remained stagnant over the past year at 16%.

Changing Consumption Habits Among Younger Canadians

The CRTC report revealed significant disparity across various age groups. According to their findings, consumer preferences among younger Canadians are driving the shift away from traditional broadcasting services. Key findings include:

  • Canadians aged 65+ are viewing more traditional television, growing 0.5% from 41.8 hours/week in 2013-2014 to 42 hours/week in 2014-2015.
  • Between 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, average weekly traditional television viewership among teenagers (aged 12-17) dropped 5.5% and among Canadians aged 18-34 dropped 4.4%.

Government Funding Opportunities for Digital Media Projects

Canadian media developers must ensure that they are positioned to meet the changing demands of Canadians – especially as more and more Canadians engage in cord cutting and shift their focus to online platforms to consume their media.

While some media producers have the budgets to make this shift to digital platforms, many companies are limited by limited cash flow and are less responsive to changing consumer demand. This is the reason for Canadian government funding programs; to offset a portion of the costs related to business expansion and diversification.

Canada Media Fund: Digital Media Development and Production Grants

The Canada Media Fund (CMF) is a federally-funded organization that ensures Canadian media is created and represented around the world. Through Canadian government funding programs, CMF assists the planning, production, and marketing of Canadian media projects so that they are high-quality and are more likely to become an international success.

One of CMF’s funding programs, the Canada Media Fund Experimental Stream, provides Canadian government funding to innovative, interactive digital media and software projects. Through the CMF Experimental Stream, Canadian businesses may apply for up to 75% of project expenses to a maximum $400,000 to $1,200,000 in small business loans.

Related Blog: Canada Media Fund Experimental: CMF Funding for Digital Media Projects

Apply for Software and Digital Media Production Grants

Canadian businesses should use this digital media content shift to their advantage. Companies who are willing to pursue more digital media projects will ultimately be rewarded, however the investment can be demanding, and often requires support from the Government of Canada.

If your digital media production company would like to check its eligibility for the CMF Experimental Stream or any other Canadian government funding programs, please contact Mentor Works.

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Danielle obtained her Master of Arts in History from the University of Waterloo. She applies the critical analysis, research, and writing skills she learned during her time in academia to her role as a Senior Business Funding Analyst at Mentor Works.

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