ONNtv to Transition To View on Demand Streaming Format

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Sault Ste. Marie’s own local TV channel, ONNtv, will be evolving from a traditional linear broadcast to a Video on Demand format effective October 16, 2021. ONNtv will continue to produce local content such as the popular First Local Morning Show and 705 Sports which will be broadcast out to our YouTube and Facebook channels in addition to continuing to be accessible in the SaultOnline/ONNtv VOD library.

The decision to pause a traditional linear broadcast format of ONNtv comes as Superior Media awaits changes in the regulations by the CRTC which were expected back in 2020, but delayed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Local TV Fund, supported by the industry, was developed over 7 years ago to ensure communities always have access to locally produced news and programming. However, the current CRTC regulations will not recognize TV stations who broadcast via the internet, such as Superior Media/ONNtv, disqualifying them from being able to make an application to access the LTF.

“Running a local TV station requires a significant financial investment, primarily for labour, something that has become increasing difficult during the pandemic as we can no longer simply rely on advertising revenue to cover the operational expenses incurred by providing a traditional linear broadcast.“, said Craig Huckerby, Executive Producer for ONNtv. “Most small businesses have struggled through the COVID-19 pandemic, either due to restrictions which have significantly limited their operations or having to shut down altogether during multiple waves.”

ONNtv launched back in May of 2018, marking the return of local TV for our area after over 18 years absence in the market. Since then, the passionate team at ONNtv has provided local newscasts, weather, sports, election coverage, talk shows, town hall discussions and a host of other locally produced content in addition to retro series, documentaries and movies.

The media landscape continues to evolve at a record pace as viewers more frequently turn to View on Demand streaming services like YouTube, Amazon and Netflix. Many traditional broadcasters such as CBC, CTV, Global and others have now launched their own streaming services while continuing to experience significant declines in viewership of their over-the-air broadcasts. Streaming has now simply become the new preferred way viewers digest a wide range of content from newscasts to TV series and even movies.

In 2010 Canadians watched only 30 minutes of video streaming each week. Fast forward to 2018, the average Canadian streamed an average of 3.8 hours each week. In 2020, as people stayed home during the pandemic, the popularity of streaming services further increased creating a demand for content which far exceeded production capacity.

ONNtv is believed to be one of the first local news channels in Canada to launch as a traditional linear broadcast streamed via the internet without a broadcast counterpart. Traditionally, television stations have had to apply for a license and upon issuance, required to construct a transmitting tower in the market to broadcast over the air. ONNtv operates strictly as an Over the Top (OTT) streamed channel, but operated similar to any other local channel in Canada. The difference being, ONNtv does not fall under the CRTC’s current definition of a broadcaster.

“We look forward to the upcoming changes to the regulations by the CRTC which will hopefully recognize and include OTT broadcasting as the future of our industry so that we can continue to blaze a trail forward producing and delivering content the way our viewers prefer to consume it.”, states Bruce Clement, President and General Manager of Superior Media/ONNtv.

SaultOnline/ONNtv has become one of the local news leaders in recent years with its converged media platform surpassing well over 100,000 users over the past couple years. It is one of only two locally owned media outlets which now serve the largest audience in Sault Ste. Marie and area.