SBD/February 7, 2011/Media

Enough Already: Critics Find Fault With Fox' Lengthy Super Bowl Pregame Show

Critics found Fox' football coverage to be strong, but not the red carpet features
Fox' pregame coverage for last night's Super Bowl XLV was the "Worst Damn Four-and-a-Half-Hour Super Bowl Show Ever," according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. The pregame began at 2:00pm ET ahead of the 6:29pm scheduled kickoff of the game, and the "pacing was choppy, especially in the first 2 hours 45 minutes, to accommodate the frequent cuts to the string of red-carpet interviews." Non-football coverage "filled the interminable hours before kickoff but hurt (and shortened) the football segments." A panel discussion on the NFL CBA negotiations "featured taped tidbits" from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith, and "would have been more meaningful if they, or players, had been shown live." Sandomir adds, "When you conceive a show as bad as this and go to these lengths to diminish the football content for more than three hours, you overpromote the company’s wares on Fox, FX and 20th Century Fox. When you produce something this awful, you tend to do something laugh-out-loud dumb like the badly acted Pizza Hut commercial starring your own people" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/7). SI.com's Richard Deitsch writes Fox "did well with the traditional football stuff" during its pregame coverage, but "there was also plenty of nonsense, and too much of it." The pregame "lacked any news judgment." It took "only 11 minutes into the show for Fox to mention the historically bad weather that hit Dallas" last week, and "that was good." What "wasn't good was that the segment lasted a minute, and was treated as an afterthought." Also, Fox "downplayed the news" that hundreds of fans had tickets deemed unusable, "giving it less than a minute" of coverage." In addition, the celebrity red carpet segment hosted by Michael Strahan and Maria Menounos "produced the kind of awkward, train wreck television that we've come to expect when Fox heads down the sycophantic path" (SI.com, 2/7).

INCOMPLETE PASS: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes Fox' red carpet show "isn't a bad idea in theory." But it "presupposes that Fox will be able to find celebrities who are at least semi-fluent in English and understand they are at the Super Bowl." Celebrities "only had to be ready to offer up their Super Bowl picks." Yet when asked, actors such as John Travolta and Harrison Ford looked "startled and at a loss for words" (USATODAY.com, 2/7). In California, John Maffei writes Strahan and Menounos "interviewing celebrities on the red carpet was a total waste of time" (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 2/7). In Chicago, Ed Sherman wrote, “I actually tried to tune in Sunday only to quickly tune out during a painful Michael Strahan interview with John Travolta. Wow, I got 4 ½ hours of my life back” (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 2/6). In San Diego, Jay Posner writes, "Why do we even have the red carpet? The interviews are just an excuse for people, mostly connected with Fox, to promote something, and they take away time that might be used on more interesting features." Also during the pregame, the "much-hyped interview between Bill O’Reilly and President Barack Obama was a mostly entertaining 15 minutes, even if it seemed terribly out of place (as it does every year)" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 2/7). In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones writes the Obama-O'Reilly conversation was the "worst interview" during Fox' coverage. It has "become a tired format, interviewing the president right before kickoff." Jones writes the best interview of the day was Fox' Terry Bradshaw talking to Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, which "ended in interesting fashion as the two shook hands with Bradshaw saying it was important to him to have a connection to Roethlisberger because of their shared history with the Steelers organization" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 2/7). In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley writes the Obama-O'Reilly interview "was interesting television," with an exchange that was "both combative and conversational" (JSONLINE.com, 2/7).

OTHER NETWORKS NOT MUCH BETTER: In Houston, David Barron notes Fox, NFL Network and ESPN "combined for about 17 hours, give or take, of pregame programming Sunday, most of it eminently forgettable." Barron: "Here's the problem I have with pregame shows. Even with all the real estate at their disposal, sometimes there's no sense of scale. After hyping the Terry Bradshaw-Ben Roethlisberger interview, we basically got three minutes of the same thing we heard from Roethlisberger during media day, followed by Bradshaw trying to make nice with the Steelers quarterback." NFL Network, however, "offered considerably more substance on the Roethlisberger-seeking-redemption issue" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 2/7).
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