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CBS will televise Super Bowl XLVII Sunday night from New Orleans, but it will be "difficult" for the network to "surpass the current record (held by NBC) of 111.3 million average viewers," according to Richard Deitsch of SI.com. Both conference championship games this year had "down viewership" from '11 and neither the 49ers (No. 6 television market) nor Ravens (No. 27) "possess pre-made star power at the skill positions that draws the ultra-casual NFL fan." CBS Sports Group Chair Sean McManus said, "The rating is very important from a pride and a stature standpoint. Financially, it does not affect us because we are not selling the Super Bowl next year. But from a pride standpoint, you want to outdo the year before, so of course I would like the game to have a huge (viewership). If we don't set a record, I will be disappointed but life will go on." CBS NFL Lead Game Dir Mike Arnold said he will consider the game a success "if it's not the focal point at the office water cooler on Monday morning." Deitsch noted CBS' pregame coverage, which begins at 1:00pm ET, will include Packers LB Clay Matthews, who was "added because CBS brass was impressed by Matthews' personality during the year." Matthews gives the net "currency as well as an expert on the defensive side of the football." Many of the pregame features "are what you'd expect," but the show will have a "promising piece on a high school football player who survived the July 2012 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. and a look at the life of the Ravens current senior advisor to player development O.J. Brigance, who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease)." In addition, "CBS Evening News" host Scott Pelley will "interview President Barack Obama at 4:30 p.m. ET from the White House." The interview is "expected to run about 10-15 minutes" (SI.com, 1/31).
DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK: Former NFLer Brett Favre will join NFL Network on Sunday "for daylong coverage" of the Super Bowl. Favre said that he chose to appear on "NFL GameDay Morning" because he "could work with friends such as Steve Mariucci, Deion Sanders and Warren Sapp, and because the game is in New Orleans." Favre will join host Rich Eisen "and several Super Bowl-winning players," including Sanders, Marshall Faulk and Kurt Warner (AP, 1/30). AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Reva Friedel wrote it is "interesting the network chose Favre since he's been so quiet since retirement." However, that is "not to say he won't be a good addition to the game day team." Friedel: "He's still a huge name, and he should bring some added interest. ... Favre is a good get for the NFL Network as he will likely draw a lot of viewership from people who otherwise might not have tuned in. The networks would be like hungry sharks if Favre ever did decide to start a TV career full-time. Maybe Super Bowl Sunday will be a test run" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 1/31).
ALL EARS ON YOU: SI's Deitsch notes there will be a "bigger-than-you'd expect assembly that will rely on Dial Global radio announcer" Kevin Harlan to be its "eyes" for the Super Bowl. Last year's Super Bowl radio broadcast was heard "by 23.1 million Americans on terrestrial radio." This year's game will be "broadcast on more than 700 radio stations nationwide, and it's a lifeline for those who are visually impaired or unable to get to a television." Harlan's task is "much more difficult than that of his TV counterpart, Jim Nantz, because calling a football game on radio requires the dissemination of about three times as much information as on television" (SI, 2/4 issue). In Cincinnati, Joe Reedy noted Boomer Esiason will be the game analyst for Dial Global, but he also will be "part of the crew" for CBS' "The Super Bowl Today" during pregame, halftime and postgame. Esiason said, "It's not going to be easy but I've done this before. ... Houston and Miami, those places are a little easier logistically. The Superdome has one elevator so they're working it out tomorrow. I don't know if I'm going to be going down with the coaches from the respective teams or whatever. It's not easy and part of the game I do from down on the field with a headset and a wireless mic" (CINCINNATI.com, 1/31).
WHEN IS ENOUGH, ENOUGH? In Tampa, Tom Jones wrote he believes fans "have simply overdosed" on Ravens LB Ray Lewis. Jones: "He cries. He preaches. He self-promotes. He seems aware whenever the camera is on him." In the one week when all fans should be "celebrating his spectacular career, Lewis' reputation and popularity are somehow getting worse." As "charismatic as he is, you wonder if networks are having second thoughts about adding Lewis to their NFL coverage" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/31).
As CBS prepares to broadcast Super Bowl XLVII Sunday, CBS Sports Group Chair Sean McManus sat down with THE DAILY's Abraham Madkour and John Ourand to answer a few questions.
Q: Will Dan Marino address his controversy on air Sunday?
McManus: I think not, but that decision hasn't been made. Dan has made his statement, and I think that, as far as we're concerned, is all that CBS will be saying about it.
Q: How are you programming your pregame show?
McManus: There's hopefully something for everybody. The deeper we get into the pregame show, the more we'll be focused on football. It's a well thought-out pregame show that addresses all the subjects that responsibly we should address. We'll also have a lot of fun in it. It's a fun event. It's a fun day for America. It's a chance for America to escape and enjoy what really has become a great national holiday. There will be some serious elements. But there will be some really enjoyable and fun elements also. There are a lot of features. We have Rachael Ray in a cooking segment because what would a Super Bowl pregame be without a cooking segment.
Q: What are some of the serious elements?
McManus: There is a thoughtful, and I think intelligent piece on player safety and concussions that our analysts have very strong opinions about. There's another piece -- you like to have one of these pieces in every Super Bowl pregame show -- on Aurora, Colo., and how that tragedy affected the city and affected some sports organizations there. It's tied into the awful occurrences at Newtown. That is a meaningful and important and emotional piece.
Q: What about the football elements?
McManus: The inside football stuff produced for the avid fan and the casual fan I think will be very interesting. People in America have heard what the pistol offense is. To hear our analysts talk about how that is different than a normal offense and how Baltimore is going to stop that -- and conversely, how San Francisco might be able to stop the quarterback who arguably has the strongest arm in the league -- is good. Dan Marino sat down with Colin Kaepernick. It's a fascinating story -- a guy no one had ever really heard of a year ago now is the starting quarterback in the Super Bowl. Shannon Sharpe sat down with Ray Lewis and there were no holds barred. Ray Lewis talked about all of the things that you would want him to talk about, including the incident in Atlanta over a decade ago. He addressed that honestly and forthrightly.
Q: CBS has had a bigger presence during Super Bowl week than any host broadcaster that we can remember. Why?
McManus: We have never, as a network, had this kind of presence at any event, much less the Super Bowl. We normally would start our coverage on Super Bowl Sunday at 11:00am. We started our Super Bowl coverage here at 9:00am on Monday in Jackson Square and have been on the air almost solidly since then. Three years ago in Miami, CBS Sports Network did no coverage at all of the Super Bowl, not one second of coverage. They're doing over 50 hours of live coverage this week, including leading right up into our pregame; including after we go off the air with our postgame show.
Q: What will you be looking for Sunday night when the broadcast network coverage signs off and the CBS Sports Network coverage starts?
McManus: Creatively, that it is seamless in terms of the coverage that we're giving our viewers on the CBS Sports Network. Secondarily, it would be how many people actually switch over. We're not expecting the majority of the people -- in fact from a corporate standpoint we want most people to watch "Elementary." That's the goal. But if there were people who were going to be turning to some other cable network, that those people would stay on CBS. That's the goal. It's ambitious.
Super Bowl XLVII is "filled with obvious selling points for CBS," including it being the final game in the career of Ravens LB Ray Lewis, but "even better, the Harbaugh Super Bowl sibling rivalry is unprecedented," according to Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY. That story lines should give CBS "insurance in keeping viewers from tuning out in case the game isn't particularly competitive," especially how the 49ers' Jim Harbaugh and the Ravens' John Harbaugh will "react at the end." CBS' Jim Nantz, who will be calling his third Super Bowl, said, "The ultimate shot of the game will be the one (Harbaugh) winner and the one loser" (USA TODAY, 2/1). CBS' NFL Lead Game Dir Mike Arnold said that there will be "individual cameras target on each coach." CBS' Phil Simms said that he and Nantz will "stick initially to how each Harbaugh is managing the game." Simms: "I have some stories about both brothers that nobody knows through experiences I've had with them, and experiences they've had with people that I know real well. Maybe we'll get into a couple of those but so many of those stories will depend on the pace of the game and the plays being made" (SI.com, 1/31).
PARENTAL ADVISORY: The AP's David Bauder noted Jack and Jackie Harbaugh, the parents of the two coaches, will "be watched closely" during the game, and their reactions will be a "fascinating sidebar to CBS' coverage of the game." CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said that there will be "a pregame feature about the familial battle," but added that the net "would try not to let it dominate its coverage of the game" (AP, 1/27). ESPN's Tony Reali set an over/under for the number of times Jack and Jackie will be shown during CBS' game broadcast at eight, prompting Tony Kornheiser to say, "This is during the game. It does not count the pregame, where they will be shown, it doesn't count the postgame where they will be shown." Kornheiser: "You're going to open the game with them, obviously. At the end, you're going to go to them, so I need at least six more during the game. I'm not sure that you're going to go back to the stands six different times, especially if it's a blowout. You're not going back six different times, so I'm going to go under." Michael Wilbon said, "I'm going to go over and tell you this: They're going to get to eight early in the third quarter. Just after halftime they'll be at eight. Every time a Harbaugh throws a red flag out there, they'll be talking about them, and if Jim goes crazy ... they're going to go three times just on that. Way over" ("PTI," ESPN, 1/30).
NO EXPIRATION DATE: NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said critics entered Super Bowl week "thinking that we’d get tired of talking about the Harbaugh brothers." He said, "But I think what we’ve found is this has to be one of the more endearing families and endearing stories that really I can remember covering.” Rapoport added he was “surprised” how Jim Harbaugh has “warmed to this media spotlight." Rapoport: "He has not been like that all year, but he’s really brought his A-game with John on the set too.” NFL Network’s Steve Wyche said of Jim Harbaugh “warming to the media” this week, “Don’t get used to it” (NFL Network, 2/1).
SOUNDING BOARD: Last night’s Top Ten list was “Top Ten Words That Kind of Sound Like ‘Harbaugh.’” CBS' David Letterman said, “On Sunday, the Harbaugh brothers will be coaching against each other in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. I don’t think this has ever happened. Has this ever happened? Wait a minute, Vince and Larry Lombardi. They coached against each other didn’t they?” (“Late Show,” CBS, 1/31).
5) “Raw bar.”
2) “Sup, bro?”
Fantasy sports content outfit Rotowire has struck a deal with Stats LLC in which Rotowire will sponsor the online contests in Stats' National Fantasy Championship Series. Rotowire will become the title sponsor of Stats' online fantasy events in baseball, football and basketball, beginning with the upcoming Rotowire Fantasy Baseball Online Championships. Drafts will be held later this month. Rotowire also will promote the NFC events to its audience. The live event portion of Stats' National Fantasy Baseball Championships was recently named by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association as the best live event in the industry for the second consecutive year.
Former NHLer Chris Nilan is the "centerpiece of a compelling documentary called 'The Last Gladiators' that opens in limited theatrical release Friday, then on video on demand Feb. 8," according to Neil Best of NEWSDAY. The initial concept for the movie "was to feature a variety of players known for their willingness -- and ability -- to fight, but director Alex Gibney suggested centering the film on one particularly compelling figure." Nilan, who was nicknamed "Knuckles" during his 13-year career that included stops with the Canadiens, Rangers and Bruins, is a "character almost too good to be true for a documentary filmmaker." Exec Producer Barry Reese said, "What separated Chris from all the other guys is he was totally open, genuine. He was willing to be vulnerable. He wasn't afraid. He gave you everything." Best noted after Nilan retired in '92, he "descended into abuse of alcohol, painkillers and other drugs." When filmmakers "first approached him, he had just finished a treatment program." The "most emotional portion of the documentary is an interview with Nilan's father, Henry, a hard-edged former Green Beret who speaks of his shame at seeing his son hospitalized and addicted" (NEWSDAY, 1/29). USA TODAY's Kevin Allen noted Nilan "brings home the severity of his problem by revealing he has awakened with a drug needle in his arm and that he has survived overdoses." Nilan: "(The documentary) was kind of an extension of my therapy to talk about all of this stuff. It helped me get through some of the things I was trying to get through and helped me stay sober" (USA TODAY, 1/31).
THE REVIEWS ARE IN: In N.Y., Farran Smith Nehme gives the documentary two-and-a-half out of four stars and writes Gibney "deserves credit for making a hockey film that the uninitiated can watch with interest, and for focusing on an issue even some hockey fans can't make up their minds about." Smith Nehme: "But he is awfully coy here. When 'The Last Gladiators' treats brawls like greatest-hits clips for more than half the movie, then suggests fighting is behind Nilan's decline, it feels like trying to have it both ways" (N.Y. POST, 2/1). Also in N.Y., Elizabeth Weitzman gave the film two out of five stars and wrote Gibney has "taken a rare misstep." There is "undoubtedly a great story within the bruised history of NHL enforcers," but why "did he choose Chris Nilan's?" There is "nothing here that proves his worth as a subject." Weitzman: "Mostly, he seems like an arrogant hothead who lucked into a career that allowed him to vent his aggression in legal ways. ... He tells his story honestly, but with no great sense of self-awareness or insight" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 1/31). The N.Y. TIMES' Nicolas Rapold writes Gibney "scales down his approach considerably here, generally for the better, rather than extrapolate a theory of violence and everything." The film is "very much about a particular part of ice hockey, the heavies rather than the Gretzkies." Rapold: "That also means that the film can at times feel like stories of fights overheard at a bar, complete with the tale of woe" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/1).
NBC finished with a 7.1 rating and 12.2 million viewers for the NFL Pro Bowl last Sunday night, marking the least-viewed Pro Bowl since the event moved to the weekend before the Super Bowl. However, the audience was well above the figures for the game in the years leading up to the change in date. The game never drew above 10 million viewers from ’01-09. NBC’s telecast on Sunday finished as the fourth most-viewed primetime program on all of TV for the week ending Jan. 27, and was the most-viewed show on Sunday night.NFL PRO BOWL AUDIENCE TRENDYEARNETRATINGVIEWERS (000)'13NBC7.112,156'12NBC7.312,498'11Fox7.713,406'10ESPN7.112,297'09NBC5.48,798'08Fox6.39,971'07CBS4.66,983'06ESPN3.75,964'05ESPN4.16,161'04ESPN3.96,359WINTER X GAMES VIEWERSHIP TRENDYEARNETWORKSTELECASTSAVG. VIEWERS (000)'13ESPN, ABC91,079'12ESPN, ESPN2, ABC111,280'11ESPN, ESPN28998'10ESPN, ESPN281,188'09ESPN, ABC111,398'08ESPN, ABC111,336'07ESPN, ABC91,135'06ESPN, ABC91,304'05ESPN, ABC71,001'04ESPN, ESPN2, ABC8825
The charts below lists final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts.
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NFL Pro Bowl1/27NBC7:31-10:35pm7.112,156 NBA: Thunder-Lakers1/27ABC4:10-6:14pm3.96,330 PGA Tour: Farmers Insurance
Open: Third, Final Rounds*1/27CBS3:00-7:00pm3.2n/a
NBA: Heat-Celtics1/27ABC12:56-4:10pm3.04,618 "UFC on Fox 6"1/26Fox8:00-10:20pm2.44,219 U.S. Figure Skating Championships1/26NBC8:00-11:00pm2.23,321 PGA Tour: Farmers Insurance
Open: Final Round*1/28CBS4:00-6:00pm1.7n/a
U.S. Figure Skating Championships1/27NBC3:00-5:00pm1.42,100 "Sunday Night Football Special"1/27NBC5:00-6:00pm1.22,000 U.S. Figure Skating Championships1/26NBC3:00-6:00pm1.41,900 PGA Tour: Farmers Insurance Open*1/26CBS3:00-6:00pm1.1n/a NCAA Basketball: Maryland-Duke1/26CBS1:00-3:00pm1.0n/a X Games1/26ABC4:00-6:00pm0.9n/a Int'l Auto Show1/27NBC12:00-1:00pm0.91,300 AMA Supercross1/27CBS12:30-1:00pm0.8n/a Figure Skating: Unforgettable
Moments of Love On Ice1/27NBC1:00-3:00pm0.81,100
Red Bull Signature Series:
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NBA: Knicks-Celtics1/24TNT8:01-10:38pm1.72,465 NBA: Lakers-Bulls1/21TNT9:44pm-12:12am1.52,235 PGA Tour: Farmers Insurance
Open: Final Round*1/27Golf7:00-8:14pm1.21,942
Winter X Games1/27ESPN9:15-11:15pm1.11,891 PGA Tour: Farmers Insurance
Open: Third Round*1/27Golf12:58-2:30pm1.21,873
North Carolina-NC State1/26ESPN7:00-9:07pm1.11,789
NCAA Basketball: Duke-Miami1/23ESPN7:00-9:08pm1.11,580 NBA: Hawks-Knicks1/27ESPN6:30-9:15pm1.01,544 NCAA Basketball: