Internet use in Canada

Global online Internet activity and engagement

Canadians are among the most engaged users in the world. According to comScore, Canadians spend more hours online (36.7 per month) than anyone else in the world. Canadian desktop users are also among the most diverse, seeking out an average of 3,238 unique web pages per month.


Device used most often to access the Internet

The majority of Canadians still use a desktop or laptop computer to access the Internet (67%), but those between 18 and 34 are less likely to do so (54%). 41 per cent of Canadian Internet users between 18 and 34 report using a mobile phone to access the Internet most often.

Chart showing data from CIRA that shows that 2/3 of Canadian most often access the Internet through their desktop or laptop computer.

Source: CIRA tracking research 2016

The majority of Canadians still use a desktop or laptop computer to access the Internet (67%)
Device   Age
All respondents 18-34 35-54 55+
Desktop/laptop computer 67% 54% 67% 76%
Smartphone/Mobile 21% 41% 21% 6%
Tablet (iPad, etc.) 12% 5% 11% 17%
TV 1% 1% 1% -

How Canadians use the Internet – video, audio and common online activities

Email continues to be the number one online activity for Canadians, with most (92%) citing this as a frequent reason for accessing the Internet. Other popular uses include banking (68%), social media (59%) and reading about news or current events (55%). Almost half of all Canadians are now browsing for goods (49%) and shopping online (49%). Among younger Canadians,(18-34 years-old), most watch movies, TV, and video online (59%).

Email continues to be the number one online activity for Canadians.

Percentage of Canadians undertaking online activities

Chart showing data from CIRA that shows that email is the most common online activity. 92 per cent of Canadian Internet users use email. The other top results are banking (68 per cent), social media (59 per cent), news and current events (55 per cent).

Source: CIRA tracking research 2016


Mobile versus computer activities

ComScore, a major analyst of the digital media market, confirms that smartphone use in Canada continues to grow, with penetration reaching 81 per cent, a six point increase over the previous year.

Chart showing data from comScore comparing typical uses for mobile and personal computers.

Source: comScore digital future in focus 2015

ComScore also points out that Canadians use smartphones differently than they would desktop technology. The smartphone is the tool of choice for instant messaging (86%), gaming (80%) and social media (69%). Desktops are still used more often for entertainment (57%), online retail (60%) and finding directories or other resources (58%).

Four out of five Canadian mobile phone users now employ a smartphone, according to comScore


Number of Internet-connected devices in Canadian homes

Chart showing data from CIRA that shows the number of Internet-connected devices in Canadian homes. Nine per cent of households had 10 or more devices.

Source: CIRA tracking research 2016

Smartphones are not the only devices taking over Canadian homes. Nine per cent of Canadians report having 10 or more Internet-connected devices in their household, a number that is likely only to rise with the proliferation of smart-home technology and applications.


Hours spent listening to radio or music online

Chart showing data from CIRA that shows the number of hours Canadians spend listening to radio or music online. 34 per cent listened to less than one hour, 18 per cent listend to 1-2 hours, 8 percent listened ot 3-4 hours, 4 per cent listened to 5-6 hours, 3 percent listened to 7-8 hours, 1 per cent listened to 9-10 hours.

Source: CIRA tracking research 2016

Canadians have embraced online audio products with 68 per cent of Canadians reporting that they listen to online audio of some kind daily.


Percentage of population streaming online video

Chart showing data from CIRA that showing the number of hours Canadians spend watching online video.

Source: CIRA tracking research 2016

The majority of Canadians still use a desktop or laptop computer to access the Internet (67%)
Hours per day   Age
All respondents 18-34 35-54 55+

Source: CIRA tracking
Breakdowns by age will have a lower base.
n=1,180

None 21% 7% 20% 33%
Less than 1 hour 22% 18% 24% 24%
1-2 25% 32% 26% 19%
3-4 17% 21% 17% 13%
5-6 8% 12% 6% 7%
7-8 3% 5% 4% 2%
9-10 1% 2% 1% 1%
11-12 1% 1% 1% 0%
More than 12 hours 1% 2% 1% 1%
Don't know 1% 1% 1% 0%

Canadians are big viewers of online video, with a quarter of all users streaming one-two hours per day. But age matters. Among young Canadians (18-34), 92 per cent stream video daily, while only two-thirds (67%) of adults over 55-years-old use the Internet to access video content. One-fifth of Canadians don’t stream video online.

Younger adults are also spending more hours streaming online. More than a third (32%) of young adults and nearly one-fifth (19%) of those over 55 watch one-to-two hours per day. Twenty-one per cent of young adults watch up to four hours daily, while just 13 per cent in the older age group stream this much content.


Population’s time spend watching online videos Canada vs. U.S.

Canada versus American online video habits

Compared to users in the U.S., Canadians are more likely to be streaming video online. The average Canadian viewer spends 1,476 minutes per year streaming online video. According to research by comScore, Canadians on average watch 5.1 more hours of video per month than their American counterparts.
Canada versus American online video habits
  Canada US
Minutes per viewer 1476 1170
% of total population 73 64

The average Canadian viewer spends 1,476 minutes per year streaming online video.


Cord cutting in Canada

As online content becomes readily available, some Canadians are cutting the cord on cable. 76 per cent of Internet users continue to subscribe to cable or satellite television. Those 55+, however, are much more likely than those 18-34 years old to subscribe to cable (89% versus 58%). Young adults are also more likely to consider cutting cable in the future, with 37 per cent saying this is a consideration, compared to the average of 24 per cent. Among all subscribers, 30 per cent say it is likely they will cancel their cable package in the next three months.

Of non-cable subscribers, more than half (55%) said the availability of online material played a role in their decision not to subscribe.


Have cancelled cable in the last 12 months 

Chart showing data from CIRA that shows that 19 percent of those who do not have cable have cancelled it in the last 12 months.

Base: Canadian Internet Users who do not subscribe to cable
Source: CIRA tracking research 2016

Currently subscribe to cable

Chart showing data from CIRA that showing that 23 per cent of Internet users do not subscribe to cable

Base: Canadian Internet users
Source: CIRA tracking research 2016


Considered cancelling cable due to the availability of online TV, movie, video content

Chart showing data from CIRA that 70 per cent of Canadians are not considering online alternatives to cable.

Base: Canadians who subscribe to cable
Source: CIRA tracking research 2016

Canadian Internet users who subscribe to Netflix

Chart showing data from CIRA that showing that 38 per cent of Internet users subscribe to Netflix.

Base: Canadian Internet users
Source: CIRA tracking research 2016


Considering canceling cable in the next 3 months

 
    Age
All respondents 18-34 35-54 55+
Total likely 30% 25% 32% 30%
Very likely 7% 19% 25% 24%
Somewhat likely 23% 19% 25% 24%
Neither likely nor unlikely 25% 29% 27% 17%
Somewhat unlikely 24% 28% 20% 25%
Very unlikely 17% 14% 18% 19%
Total unlikely 41% 42% 38% 44%
Don’t know 5% 4% 3% 8%

Use of VPN by Canadian Netflix subscribers

 
    Age
All respondents 18-34 35-54 55+

Source: CIRA tracking
Breakdowns by age will have a lower base.
n=453

Yes 16% 21% 17% 7%
No 71% 68% 70% 77%
Don't know 13% 10% 13% 16%

Canadians are willing to tread into some grey areas to access the online content they want. Almost four-in-ten (38%) Internet users say they subscribe to Netflix. Among Netflix subscribers, 16 per cent admit to using DNS masking or a VPN in order to access Netflix or other online content only available outside the country. DNS masking is highest among 18-34 year olds (21%), those with children under 18 in household (24%) and men (23%).

Canadians are willing to tread on some legal grey areas to access the online content they want.


Do Canadians love online Can-con? Extent to which Canadians seek out Canadian online content

Canadians have some concern for where their content is produced. Few (14%) often seek out Canadian content online, but 60 per cent of users that watch online movies, video and TV at least occasionally seek out Canadian content.

 
    Age
All respondents 18-34 35-54 55+

Source: comScore
Breakdowns by age will have a lower base.
n=949

Total always/often 14% 14% 18% 10%
Always/every time 3% 3% 3% 2%
Often/almost every time 12% 11% 15% 8%
Occasionally/sometimes 46% 46% 46% 48%
Almost never 21% 23% 20% 20%
Never 11% 7% 10% 16%
Total almost never/never 32% 30% 30% 36%
Don't know 7% 11% 7% 5%

60% of Internet users that watch TV/movies/video online at least occasionally seek out Canadian content.


.CA registrant customer satisfaction

.CA is in a somewhat unique position to other ccTLDs. The domain market in North America is more dominated by .com than other markets (given the proliferation of .com, in the United States). However, .CA has taken market-share from .com over the past decade or so, and now accounts for 31% of all domains registered in Canada. CIRA continued to monitor this closely, as recent quarters show some reversal in this trend.

Importance of .CA as a resource for Canadians

Chart showing that 91 per cent of Internet users who have registered a .CA consider it to be an important resource for Canadians. Of those 66 per cent consider it very important

Base: .CA Registrants
Source: CIRA tracking research 2016

CIRA’s .CA customers overwhelmingly see .CA as a critical resource for Canadians. CIRA continues to carry a public mandate to ensure that .CA is a viable online home for Canadian online businesses, ideas, and ventures that also contributes to the larger project of building a better online Canada.


.CA registrant customer satisfaction

CIRA registrants
Year % Excellent/Good (8-10)
2016 63%
2015 69%
2014 66%
2013 69%
2012 62%
2011 66%
.CA is in a somewhat unique position to other ccTLDs. The domain market in North America is more dominated by .com than other markets (given the proliferation of .com, in the United States). However, .CA has taken market-share from .com over the past decade or so, and now accounts for 31% of all domains registered in Canada. CIRA continued to monitor this closely, as recent quarters show some reversal in this trend.

Chart showing market-share for major domains in Canada and a tightening of market-share between .com and .CA.

Source: Zook data


.CA growth

Chart showing that .CA growth rates have outpaced the ccTLD industry overall for the last six quarters.

Source: Zook data

As previously described, the introduction of 1000+ new gTLDs into an already mature domain market has led to declines in growth across the domain industry. However, CIRA has continued to outpace the global ccTLD growth rates for the past six quarters.


How Canadians use .CA

The .CA team has worked hard to position the .CA domain as a safe, secure, stable, and unquestionably Canadian alternative to other generic domain options.

Why .CA?

Chart showing key responses for why Canadians chose .CA. “I’m Canadian”, “Canadian business for use by Canadians”, and “Canadian presence/ identity” rank in the top spots. 8 per cent of respondents state that the .com was taken.

Base: .CA Registrants
Source: CIRA tracking research 2016


.CA versus .com for business/personal use

Chart showing that .CA is preferred by respondents for personal use and .com is preferred for business use.

Base: Internet users, SMEs, CIRA members and registrants
Source: CIRA tracking research 2016

While .com remains the domain of choice for many businesses, for businesses working within Canada, .CA presents a compelling option.

.CA also provides an interesting opportunities for Canadian businesses online. Unequivocally, Canadians have stated they prefer to support Canadian businesses where possible; and they have an affinity for businesses using a .CA, which easily identifies them as Canadian.

Among Internet users in Canada:

79% prefer to support Canadian businesses

68% agree that Canadian businesses should use .ca

60% prefer .ca websites because they are Canadian

Within Canada, .com remains the most popular choice for those registering their domain for business, while .CA is the top choice for personal use.