Canadians Are Watching More Recorded TV Than Live TV

More than four-in-five cable subscribers say there are many channels in their current plan that they never watch.

Vancouver, BC [February 7, 2019] – Canadians who watch television are spending more time enjoying programming that has been digitally recorded than watching shows the moment they air, a new Research Co. poll has found.

The online survey of a representative national sample asked Canadians to describe how they watch television.

About a third of the time spent by Canadians who watch television (32%) is done through a digital recording device, while 25% of the time is spent watching live television and 23% is spent streaming on online sites, such as Netflix, CraveTV or Disney Plus.

“Women are significantly more likely to watch recorded content (37% of their time) and to stream (28% of their time) than men,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “Conversely, men are more likely to be watching live programming than women (34% of their time).”

Streaming is decidedly more popular among Canadians aged 18-to-34 (35% of their time) than among those aged 35-to-54 (24% of the time) and those aged 55 and over (11% of the time).

When it comes to cable television, three-in-four Canadian subscribers (75%) say they watch Canadian networks “daily or a few times a week”. 

Majorities of Canadian cable subscribers also watch news channels (63%), American networks (61%) and sports channels (53%) “daily or a few times a week”, while fewer watch lifestyle channels (47%), specialty channels (41%) and movie channels (34%) at the same rate.

While 15% of Canadian cable subscribers have a large package with many premium channels, 40% describe their deal as mid-sized, with some premium channels. Equal proportions of cable subscribers have a small package, but not the cheapest (21%) or the cheapest available (also 21%).

More than four-in-five Canadian cable subscribers (83%) say there are many channels included in their current plan that they never watch, and three-in-four (75%) believe they pay too much money for cable television.

Across the country, 59% of Canadian cable subscribers claim to be disappointed with the variety of programming they are getting from their plan—a proportion that grows to 64% in both Atlantic Canada and British Columbia.


Results are based on an online study conducted from January 23 to January 26, 2020, among 895 adults in Canada who watch television at home. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in Canada. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.3 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

Find our full data set here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.