- The year 2016 was a best-ever year for Ontario’s film and television production industry: it contributed $1.7 billion to the provincial economy (the sixth consecutive year the industry contributed more than $1 billion) and supported over 35,000 jobs. This is an increase of nearly 3,200 jobs compared to 2015. Television production accounted for $1.38 billion, or 81.5% of the total production figure.a
- According to Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA)’s latest economic report on the screen-based media industry in Canada, film and television production continued to be an important source of employment and GDP in Canada in 2015-16. The production industry generated 140,600 full time equivalents (FTEs) in 2015-16, including direct (i.e. cast and crew) and spin-off impacts. The screen sector value chain generated $20.1 billion in GDP for the Canadian economy, including $9.9 billion directly within the value chain and an additional $10.2 billion in other industries within the Canadian economy. Ontario had the highest share of production of any province, at 39% of total production volumes.b
- According to Statistics Canada, Canadian film, television and video production revenues reached $4.85 billion in 2015, up from $4.22 billion two years earlier. Profit margins increased to 12.7% from 6.1% in 2013.c
- In March 2017, the Canada Media Fund (CMF) announced initiatives to increase the role of women in Canada’s television industry, including that broadcasters will be required to commit 25% of their performance envelope dollars to projects that employ a minimum number of women in the key positions of producer, writer, showrunner and/or director. This target will increase in subsequent years and will aim for 50/50 by 2019-20.d The National Film Board (NFB) has a similar goal of reaching gender parity by 2020 in key creative roles for animation and interactive, as well as documentaries, and including cinematography, editing, music and screenwriting.e
- On March 6, 2017, the Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office (CAVCO) issued final public notices on three topics: eligible platforms to meet the requirement of the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit (CFVPTC) that works be “shown in Canada,” the definition of ineligible genres of production, and the definition of “advertising” for the purpose of federal film or video tax credit programs. The full text of the public notices can be found on the CAVCO website.
- In April 2017, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) published an updated application policy in order to provide guidance on the CRA’s treatment of assistance for the purposes of the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit (CPTC) and Film or Video Production Services Tax Credit (PSTC). The policy describes several forms of financing, including various crowdfunding models, and discusses whether these amounts will be considered “assistance” (and therefore reduce or “grind” the tax credit).
- Winners at the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards included OMDC-funded films Born to Be Blue, Two Lovers and a Bear, The Other Half, and Weirdos. Numerous Ontario TV productions received awards—among them, Letterkenny, Orphan Black, Odd Squad, and The Baroness Von Sketch Show.
OMDC Industry Profiles receive a full update once per year. The interim update summarizes key changes approximately six months after the profile’s release.
Ontario is home to Canada’s largest film and television sector and comprises players in all parts of the audiovisual content production and delivery value chain. Ontario is one of the largest production centres for film & television in North America.1 Notably this is the fifth year in a row that the economic contribution of film and television productions reached past the one billion dollar mark.2
The film and TV production sector in Ontario is mainly made up of small- to medium-sized companies producing a combination of their own proprietary productions and service productions with international partners. The province is also home to world-class animation and visual effects studios. In 2014-15, Ontario generated 38% of the national film and television production volume.3
- Many Ontario film, television and digital media productions earned honours at the 2016 Canadian Screen Awards. The OMDC-supported Room, a Canada-Ireland co-production, won a total of nine Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Motion Picture, Achievement in Direction, Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, and Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role. OMDC-supported The Book of Negroes won in a number of categories, including Best TV Movie or Limited Series, and Best Direction in a Dramatic Program or Limited Series. In the digital media categories, Toronto’s Secret Location won a Best-Cross Platform Project – Children’s and Youth award for Gaming Show Interactive.
- Notably, Room received many international accolades, including nominations at the Academy Awards®, British Academy Film Awards, Golden Globe Awards®, and the Screen Actors Guild Awards, among others. Brie Larson won major awards for her performance in Room, including an Academy Award® and a Golden Globe Award® for Best Actress.
- Ontario films were also well-represented on the international festival circuit. Solomon Friedman’s Bacon & God’s Wrath was awarded the Jury Award – Short Film at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, while Mean Dreams and Two Lovers and A Bear were among Ontario films selected for the 2016 Cannes Film Festival – Directors Fortnight Selection.
- More than 30 Ontario films were screened at this year’s edition of the Toronto International Film Festival® (TIFF), including Film Fund supported-projects like All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception and The Spirit of I.F. Stone, and Mean Dreams.
Industry Size and Economic Impact
Employment and wages
- The most recent Statistics Canada data show that Canadian film, television, and video production companies paid out $926.4 million in salaries, wages and benefits to workers in the sector in 2013. Ontario accounted for approximately 46% of those payments, disbursing $423.3 million in salaries—more than any other province.4
- Canadian Media Production Association’s (CMPA) Profile 2015 estimates that total film and television production in Canada is responsible for generating a total of 148,500 full-time equivalent jobs (FTEs) in 2014-15, of which 58,400 are direct FTEs and 90,100 are spin-off FTEs.5 The majority of FTEs were generated by Canadian production (24,400 direct and 37,700 spin-off FTEs).6 Ontario’s share of the direct and spin-off employment in 2014-15 was the single largest among all provinces and territories, having generated 46,250 FTEs.7
- According to data collected by OMDC (for calendar year 2015), the film and television production supported by the province contributed nearly 32,500 FTEs (direct and spinoff), which is an increase of 4,500 over the previous year.8
- A recent report from the Computer Animation Studios of Ontario (CASO) revealed that the computer animation and visual effects industries in Ontario employed approximately 6,750 FTEs in 2014, with 75% being direct FTEs (5,070) and the remaining 25% (1,680) being spin-off FTEs.9
- In 2010-11, the documentary subsector in Canada generated approximately $195 million in labour income, supporting 4,800 direct jobs, down from a 10-year high of 6,300 direct jobs in 2008-09. This subsector has seen significant decreases in production volume in recent years, which has had a commensurate impact on the number of FTEs and labour income attributable to documentary.10
Production Volume and Budgets
- In 2015, government-supported production volume in Ontario’s film and TV industry exceeded the $1 billion mark for the fifth year in a row, hitting an all-time high of $1.52 billion according to OMDC figures. Television was responsible for 83% of all expenditures, with $1.26 billion spent on domestic and foreign series, TV movies, mini-series, specials and pilots.11 Spending associated with foreign TV movies and mini-series production continued to grow (96%), buoyed by a number of high-value television series, including Suits, Beauty and the Beast, and Heroes Reborn. Domestic TV production remains an important component of these annual results with a contribution of $704.8 million in 2015.12 Notably, while the number of TV movies, mini-series, specials, and pilots only increased 5% over 2014 levels, budgets increased by 42%.13
- On the feature film side, the number of domestic feature films (27) returned to 2013 levels after a sharp spike in 2014 (43).14 The number of foreign feature films, however, increased from 15 to 28 (a growth of 87%) and their budgets increased by 50%.15
- OMDC’s data also suggests that the greatest area of growth was in foreign animation, with the number of projects (26) increasing by 136% and budgets increasing by 146%.16 Domestic animation also remained strong, with a 42% increase in projects and a corresponding 34% increase in budget.17
- In 2014-15, Ontario maintained its position as the province with the highest volume of Canadian film and television production, accounting for 38% of the national total.18 According to data from CMPA’s Profile 2015, the total volume of film and television production in Canada reached a high of $7.1 billion, which corresponds to an annual growth rate of 19.6% from 2013-14 figures.19 The data collected by CMPA suggests that this increase was fueled by a number of factors: growth in the foreign location and service (FLS) production sector (which grew 42.4% in 2014-15), a depreciation in the Canadian dollar, growth in the Canadian television sub-sector (9.8% growth), Canadian theatrical feature film production (1.7% growth), and 11% growth in the broadcaster in-house production sector.20
- Data collected by Telefilm shows that there were a total of 55 co-productions produced in 2015, with a total budget of just over $449 million.21 The Canadian share of these 55 co-productions was just over $181 million.22 Breaking this data down further, there were 35 English-language projects, with a Canadian share of approximately $144 million, and 20 French-language co-productions that earned a Canadian share of just over $36 million.23 The majority of the co-productions undertaken in 2015 were in the television sector (30), which generated a Canadian share of over $110 million.24 Overall, these co-production figures demonstrate a decrease in the number of co-productions produced in 2014 (68), total budgets ($536 million), and the corresponding Canadian share ($254 million).25
- In 2015, according to Telefilm, Canada’s most common co-production partner was France (20), followed closely by the United Kingdom (15).26
- A recent report from Film LA Inc. examining pilot productions in 2016 identified Toronto as one of Los Angeles’ top competitors for pilot productions. According to the report, Toronto attracted 12 pilots during the 2015-16 season; a 33% increase in pilots over the previous cycle.27
Revenues and related figures
- In 2013, Ontario film, television, and video production companies generated 50% of Canada’s overall film and video production operating revenues, followed by Quebec at 26.1% and B.C. at 17%. These figures represent a slight decrease in the Ontario share of national revenues over 2011.28 Furthermore Ontario film, television and video production companies earned $2.12 billion in operating revenues in 2013, and although expenses also rose (following the national trend), the sector saw a solid profit margin of 6.5%― slightly higher than the national margin (6.4%).29
- In 2013, Canadian film, television and video production businesses reported $4.24 billion in operating revenues and operating expenses totaling $4 billion, resulting in an operating profit margin of 6.4%.30 The majority of Canadian production revenues, 64%, were generated by television production, including both independent and broadcaster in-house production.31
- According to Statistics Canada, Ontario accounted for 87.9% of the film and video distribution industry’s operating revenues in 2013.32 In 2013, distributors based in Ontario earned operating revenues of $1.62 million, and had an operating profit margin of 20.6%.33
- According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the global TV and video segment will continue to grow to USD $318.26 billion by 2020, which is a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.5%.34 This market segment includes consumer spending on basic and premium TV subscriptions, public licence fees, and home video revenue (including physical and digital home video, sell-through, rental, and subscription services like Netflix or other video on demand (VOD) or pay per view (PPV) services. Globally, revenues relating to TV subscriptions will continue to grow, reaching USD $241.22 billion by 2020, growing at a 2.8% CAGR.35
- PwC projects that TV and video revenues for Canada will continue to grow at a relatively slow pace (0.83% CAGR) until 2020, reaching just over $10.1 million by 2020.36 While the rate of subscription TV penetration is anticipated to continue its decline (to 70.7% by 2020), the number of households paying for subscription services will actually increase to 11.8 million by 2020.37
- While the global cinema segment is anticipated to grow at a rate of 5.79% CAGR over the period of 2015-2020, Canadian box office revenues are expected to reach USD $803 million by 2020 at a much slower pace (a CAGR of 0.9% over the forecast period).38
- According to PwC, total electronic video revenues (a segment that includes on-demand video services from both video on demand (VOD) and pay per view services provided by a TV provider) is poised to overtake revenues from physical home video (rentals, sell-through and consumption of movies, TV programming, and other entertainment content on DVD or Blu-ray), eventually reaching a high of USD $1.62 billion (64.7% of the total segment).39 Growth in this segment is expected to be fueled by continued growth in over-the-top (OTT) video services (like Netflix).40
- The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)’s Communications Monitoring Report provides insight into the habits of Canadian consumers, and how they are changing. According to the report, Canadians view approximately 27.4 hours of traditional television weekly, which is a decline of 1.8% from 2012-13.41 The decline is more noticeable amongst teenagers (12-17) at 19.9 hours per week (-5.2%), and adults aged 18-34 at 20.6 hours per week (a decline of 5.9% from 2012-13).42 Conversely, Internet TV viewing is continuing to increase: Canadians (18+) watched, on average, 7 hours of Internet TV per week, compared to only 1.5 hours in 2010-11.43
Trends and Issues
Growth rate and industry trends
- With Canada’s TV, video, and cinema markets projected to show signs of growth over the next five years; Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) has been identified as an opportunity for growth.44 PwC’s projections suggest that IPTV subscriptions will grow at a 6.3% CAGR, to eventually reach 2.3 million subscribers.45 Notably, IPTV generated close to $1.3 billion in revenues in 2014, which was the first time it hit the 1 billion dollar mark since its introduction into the marketplace.46 While the market share of IPTV is growing, this comes with declines in the market shares of cable and satellite services, respectively.47
- Cord-cutting and cord-shaving remain trends to watch in the Canadian (and global) television context. A recent report suggests that the Canadian market lost approximately 190,000 subscribers in 2015, and predicts a subscriber decline of 191,000 for 2016.48 According to the Convergence Research Group, 3.43 million Canadian households (23.7% of total households) did not have a traditional television subscription with a cable, satellite, or telecommunications provider in 2015.49 However, recent data from Media Technology Monitor (MTM) suggests that despite the pressures associated with cord-cutting and cord-shaving, the majority of English-speaking Canadians still subscribe to traditional television services.50
- This same research from MTM provides further evidence about the popularity of over-the-top services in Canada, with almost half (48%) of total Canadian Anglophones having a subscription to Netflix.51
- Interestingly, recent data also shows growth in the national over-the-air (OTA) market, primarily driven by millennials. Research, also from MTM, shows that 8% of Anglophone Canadian adults watched OTA in 2016; a 7% growth from 2015.52 This growth appears to have been primarily driven by millennial consumers, whose share of OTA connections has grown to 13%.53
Global and domestic issues
- Acknowledging significant changes in how consumers access and view television in Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) launched an initiative called “Let’s Talk TV: A Conversation with Canadians” in 2014. An initial open consultation received over 1,300 comments and a September 2014 public hearing saw over 100 intervenors providing feedback to the CTRC. In early 2015, the CRTC released decisions related to over-the-air television, simultaneous substitution, video-on-demand services, Canadian content, and a consumer code. Key changes of interest to the Ontario production sector include: the reduction of quotas which set out the amount of Canadian programming on local and specialty channels, the elimination of genre protection rules for specialty channels, more broadcaster flexibility in promoting Canadian content, and changes to what constitutes a Canadian production. Under two new pilot programs, the CRTC has relaxed the Canadian content rules for productions with a per-episode budget of over $2 million or productions that are based on an adaptation of a best-selling Canadian book. The Let’s Talk TV decision also opened the door for broadcasters to apply to remove the requirement for them to adhere to the previously negotiated Terms of Trade agreement with independent producers.54
- In light of the changes brought forward by the Let’s Talk TV decision, the CRTC also issued Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2016-343, which is its new policy framework for Certified Independent Production Funds (CIPFs). This revised policy framework introduces several key changes to CIPFs, including: the removal of the requirement that producers obtain a broadcast licence or development agreement to receive CIPF funding, refined definition of ‘new media content’, the lowering of the maximum required Canadian certification points to six, and making co-ventures eligible for CIPF funding.55
- The Let’s Talk TV decision also changed the regulatory environment around the packages cable providers are required to offer consumers. The CRTC announced in March 2015 that the new offering of a $25 “skinny-basic” channel package, coupled with the ability for consumers to buy additional individual channels on a pick-and-pay basis, would give Canadians more freedom to choose the television content that suits their needs. Consumers gained access to the new entry-level service and pick-and-pay options by March 2016.56
- As of April 15, 2016, the CRTC announced that more than 66,000 Canadians had signed up for the new basic television package.57 However, based on a number of complaints from consumers, the CRTC called Bell, Rogers, Shaw and Videotron to a hearing to examine the launch of the “skinny basic” cable packages.58 The decision from this CRTC hearing has not yet been released.
- At the federal level, the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Canadian content in a digital world consultation will examine the entirety of Canada’s cultural policies (including laws, institutions, policies, and programs) to ensure that they remain relevant in a digital world. This consultation may have far-reaching consequences for all of the cultural industries, including Canada’s film and television sector.
- In July 2016, the Government of Ontario released its first-ever Culture Strategy, which established a roadmap for supporting arts and culture, based on extensive consultation with Ontarians. The final strategy focuses on four key goals: promote cultural engagement and inclusion; strengthen culture in communities; fuel the creative economy, and promote the values of the arts throughout government. Ontario’s film and television sector is recognized as an important contributor in this strategy, which notes a commitment to modernize the suite of tax credits for the screen-based industries.
- In September 2016, Canadian over-the-top subscription service Shomi announced that it would be shutting down on November 30, 2016. Shomi was launched in 2014 as a joint venture between Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications, and while subscriber data has not been made public, the service’s catalog featured over 19,000 titles and
118 exclusive TV series.59 Third-party consumer research, however, estimates that Shomi held a market share of between 4-5%.60
- Recent research by Ontario screen-based industry organizations explores trends, opportunities, and challenges in topics like production financing, gender parity, and national content definitions. A report published by the Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC) examines the involvement of the philanthropic sector in funding social issue-based documentary productions, while a report from CMPA highlights key strategies for content producers intending to move beyond project-based financing.61 As gender parity and representation became a growing focus in the screen-based industries, Women in View produced a report that looked at the employment patterns of women in the Canadian screen-based industries.62 A second study conducted by the CMPA focuses on providing a comparative look at Canada’s national content definitions, and how they compare to other international jurisdictions of note.63
- Through its Film Commission, OMDC markets the province as a preferred location for filming and provides complimentary location scouting and facilitation assistance to film and television producers, both domestic and service, who are considering Ontario for their productions. OMDC maintains the Ontario Production Guide, a comprehensive directory of local providers of goods and services for the film and TV sector. OMDC, through a financial partnership with the City of Toronto and with targeted marketing support provided by industry trade organization FilmOntario, also maintains a full-time marketing presence in Los Angeles. The office provides on-the-ground marketing to attract production to Ontario as well as support to Ontario screen-based content creators in accessing the L.A. marketplace. The L.A. office continues to make an important contribution to Ontario’s foreign production activity.
- Ontario film and television producers have access to provincial government funding through tax credits including the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit (OFTTC), the Ontario Computer Animation and Special Effects Tax Credit (OCASE), and the Ontario Production Services Tax Credit (OPSTC). OMDC also provides funding to trade and event organizations in the production sector through the Industry Development Program for events and activities that stimulate the growth of the industry, and for producers to participate in export activities through the OMDC Export Fund– Film and Television.
- Ontario feature film producers also have access to provincial government funding through the OMDC Film Fund. The Fund is designed to increase the level of domestic feature film production in Ontario, and provides support to feature film producers in the final stages of development and production financing. Recent Film Fund recipients include Room, Born to Be Blue, and The River of My Dreams: A Portrait of Gordon Pinsent.
- Feature film producers currently have access to federal government funding through tax credits and Telefilm Canada’s Canada Feature Film Fund (CFFF). In 2014-15, Telefilm provided $60.8 in production financing to produce 87 feature films, and an additional $11.3 million in marketing funding for 87 feature films.
- Television producers currently have access to federal government funding through tax credits and the Canada Media Fund (CMF). In 2015-16, CMF disbursed $355.4 million through its Experimental and Convergent streams, and triggered $1.4 billion in production activity.
Profile current as of September 28, 2016
4 Statistics Canada, “Film, Television and Video Production 2013,” Table 361-0038 – Film, Television and video production, summary statistics, every 2 years (dollars unless otherwise notes), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 16, 2016).
5 CMPA, pp. 9
6 ibid, pp.9
7 ibid, pp.12
11 OMDC, Production Statistics, 2015.
18 CMPA, pp. 6
20 CMPA, pp. 6-7
25 Telefilm Canada, Statistics on Coproduction. 2014.
26 Telefilm Canada, 2015
27 Film LA Inc., 2016 Pilot Production Report, July 2016, pp. 7.
28 Statistics Canada, Film, television and video production, 2013. July 28, 2015. (accessed: August 16, 2016)
29 ibid, Table 361-0038
30 Statistics Canada, Film, television and video production, 2013
31 Statistics Canada, Table 361-0059 – Film, television and video production, production revenue by type of production, every 2 years (percent), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 16, 2016).
32 Statistics Canada, Film and video distribution, 2013. July 27, 2015. (accessed: August 16, 2016)
33 Statistics Canada, Table 361-0049 – Film and video distribution, summary statistics, every 2 years (dollars unless otherwise noted), CANSIM (database), (accessed: August 16, 2016)
36 PwC, June 2016, TV and video: Canada.
41 Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Communications Monitoring Report 2015, November 2015, pp. 77
43 CRTC, Communications Monitoring Report 2015, pp. 3
44 PwC, June 2016, TV and video: Canada.
46 CRTC, Communications Monitoring Report 2015, pp. 3
50 CNW, The MTM’s Most Recent Survey Results Find Over a Third Online Canadians are Using Ad Blockers,
June 16, 2016.
52 The Wire Report. “Millennials driving OTA growth in Canada: report”, July 20, 2016.
55 CRTC, Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2016-343
56 Press Release, CRTC, March 19, 2015.
61 Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC), Philanthropic Funding for Documentaries in Canada: Towards an Industry-wide Strategy, September 16, 2015 and CMPA, Strengthening the Business: Capitalizing Canada’s Content Business, February 4, 2016.
63 CMPA, An International Comparative Study: How National Content is Defined in Canada and Selected Countries for the Purpose of Providing Access to Public Support, August 9, 2016.
64 The information included in this section is an overview of some of the government support to the film and television sectors. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of government support available.