SBD/February 3, 2014/Media

Fox' 47.6 Overnight For Super Bowl XLVIII Blowout Down 1%; Mixed Reviews For Booth

Seahawks-Broncos is down from the 48.1 overnight for Ravens-49ers last year
Fox drew a 47.6 overnight rating for the Seahawks’ 43-8 blowout win over the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII last night, a figure that is down 1% from last year but still good enough for the fifth-best Super Bowl overnight on record. Seahawks-Broncos is down from the 48.1 overnight for Ravens-49ers last year (excludes blackout period at Mercedes-Benz Superdome). K.C. led all markets last night with a 58.1 local rating, followed by Seattle-Tacoma with a 56.7 rating. Denver ranked 10th with a 51.4 local rating. N.Y. earned a 50.5 rating, the best figure in that market for a Super Bowl since Giants-Broncos earned a 53.4 in ’87. Tulsa led all non-NFL markets with a 52.9 local rating, followed by Las Vegas (52.5), Portland (52.4) and Knoxville (52.3) (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). In L.A., Tom Hoffarth writes blowouts always are "the last thing a network wants in any live sporting event, but when you’ve got a shot at generating perhaps the greatest audience in Super Bowl history based on a matchup that many considered a pick ’em going in, the sucker punch of Super Bowl XLVIII likely will be felt for a while all around Fox Sports’ divisions" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 2/3).

SUPER BOWL OVERNIGHT RATING TREND
YEAR
NETWORK
MATCHUP
OVERNIGHT
'14
Fox
Seahawks-Broncos
47.6
'13
CBS
Ravens-49ers
48.1
'12
NBC
Giants-Patriots
47.8
'11
Fox
Packers-Steelers
47.9
'10
CBS
Saints-Colts
46.4
'09
NBC
Steelers-Cardinals
42.1
'08
Fox
Giants-Patriots
44.7
'07
CBS
Colts-Bears
42.0
'06
ABC
Steelers-Seahawks
42.1
'05
Fox
Patriots-Eagles
43.4

SOLID JOB IN THE BOOTH: In Tampa, Tom Jones writes Fox' Joe Buck and Troy Aikman yesterday "acted like Super Bowl XLVIII was just another football game," and that is "a compliment." In their fourth Super Bowl together, the two "called a steady game, giving viewers exactly what they deserve." They needed to direct the broadcast "toward football fans, and that's what Buck and Aikman did." Jones: "That's what the whole broadcast did. Give Fox high marks. Their broadcast was infinitely better than the game itself" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 2/3). SI.com's Richard Deitsch writes a blowout is "not an easy game to dissect but I thought the game broadcast was generally solid." Buck was on the Seahawks' game-opening safety "immediately and also quickly identified the flag on the play." His call "was followed by an excellent production sequence" from producer Richie Zyontz and director Rich Russo. Fox' game production "was generally strong all night, with a great moment coming on the close-up" of Seahawks CB Byron Maxwell "punching the ball out of the hands" of Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas with 5:55 left in the third quarter. Deitsch gives the production an overall grade of a B+ (SI.com, 2/3).

REVIEWING THE TAPE: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes Aikman "was definitive, cutting no slack the entire game." Neither he nor Buck "tried conning viewers by raising hope" Broncos QB Peyton Manning could bring the Broncos back. Aikman at least three times warned that if the Broncos' offensive line "could not 'protect Manning on the edge,' the game was going to get ugly." Raissman: "Aikman was correct. He saw early on where all this was headed. Working an awful Super Bowl, Aikman had a good night" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/3). Also in N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes Aikman "spoke plain, football English," and there was "no genuine gridiron gibberish." Buck had an early call that the "crowd sounded more football than corporate" (N.Y. POST, 2/3). In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes Buck and Aikman "were somewhat gentle in reporting and commenting on the Broncos' gradual demise." To their credit, the Fox duo "regularly -- and accurately -- explained to viewers how the nasty Seahawks defense and quick-moving offense easily negated the Broncos' game plan." Still, "at times, they seemed to be a bit surprised" by the Seahawks' "complete dominance" (DENVER POST, 2/3). Sports media reporter Ed Sherman writes he "didn't have any problem" with Buck and Aikman. Aikman "appropriately blitzed the Broncos for playing as if they were wearing weighted shoes." Sherman's "biggest issue" with Aikman came as he was "perhaps channeling his inner-QB," saying this loss "wouldn’t damage Manning’s legacy" (SHERMANREPORT.com, 2/3). USA TODAY's Reid Cherner writes Buck and Aikman "presided over a broadcast that was enhanced by the ease between the duo" (USA TODAY, 2/3). Meanwhile, in Seattle, Rob Owen notes Fox "captured the Seahawks’ immediate momentum, including an early 'Sounds of the Game' feature as microphones captured Seahawks safety Earl Thomas’ celebration of a successful play with a 'You a beast!' exclamation" (SEATTLE TIMES, 2/3).

THERE WERE SOME ISSUES: In Baltimore, David Zurawik wrote Fox "did better" than CBS did with Super Bowl XLVII last year, but that is "not saying much." Buck's play-by-play "was below average, while the production values and analysis" by Aikman were "average at best." Zurawik wondered how the broadcast "missed a late hit and penalty" by Seahawks WR Ricardo Lockette on a first-quarter kickoff. Zurawik: "This is the Super Bowl, after all, and the TV director has more cameras than you can count trained on that field. There's no excuse for that" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 2/2). In Buffalo, Alan Pergament notes Fox "didn’t get great angles on sideline plays, including one early" in which Seahawks coach Pete Carroll "lost a challenge when it looked like quarterback Russell Wilson ran for a first down despite the official ruling otherwise." It was "hard to see why the call stood" (BUFFALO NEWS, 2/3). The TAMPA BAY TIMES' Jones writes the first-quarter play that Carroll challenged "was a confusing call, yet Fox glossed over it even though rules official Mike Pereira was sitting in the booth." Not talking to Pereira "turned out to be Fox's only real misstep of the day" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 2/3).

AIKMAN OFF THE MARK: In Miami, Barry Jackson writes Fox' telecast "was generally solid, despite the lopsided score, but clearly short of exceptional." Aikman "offered a bunch of cogent points but delivered several head-scratching moments, too." Aikman "correctly predicted before the game" that Seahawks WR Percy Harvin "would be a factor." But during the fourth quarter, he noted that the Broncos "needed 'four touchdowns and three three-point conversions' to rally from a 29-0 deficit" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/3). In Albany, Pete Dougherty writes Fox was "off its game early." The net "seemed to be caught off guard by the amount of crowd noise, unusual for a Super Bowl and enough to make it difficult to hear" the announcers. Buck and Aikman "clearly weren't in playoff form," and Aikman, "in particular, kept his eyes glued to what the camera was showing us and not offering much else" (Albany TIMES UNION, 2/3). The BUFFALO NEWS' Pergament writes Aikman "had just a passable game and can be faulted for a few things." He "failed to provide a first-half answer" for why Manning "had a game that looked a lot like the horrific season" of his younger brother, Giants QB Eli Manning (BUFFALO NEWS, 2/3).

SUBSTANDARD REUNION?
In N.Y., Bill Carter notes members of the "Seinfeld" cast "did get together for a reunion" last night at the start of halftime, but "only the short version of the reunion" was on TV. The rest -- "perhaps five minutes’ worth -- is posted online as part of Jerry Seinfeld’s web series, 'Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.'" The vignette "features a conversation over coffee in the familiar setting of Tom’s Restaurant" between Seinfeld and George Costanza (Jason Alexander), with a "special guest appearance" by Newman (Wayne Knight). The promotion "was not a commercial," as neither Seinfeld "nor Sony Entertainment, which owns the Crackle site, paid for the 'Seinfeld' presence during the game." Fox was "looking for an entertainment feature to lead into its halftime coverage" and contacted Seinfeld (N.Y. TIMES, 2/3). In L.A., Mary McNamara writes under the header, "The Super Bowl 'Seinfeld' Reunion? Not So Super." The promo "had a hard time connecting." It "should have made us realize how much we miss the show that changed comedy and unleashed Larry David onto an unsuspecting public." McNamara: "Except it wasn't and it didn't" (L.A. TIMES, 2/3).

PROBLEM FOR TWC: In L.A., Joe Flint reports Time Warner Cable subscribers in the city who watched the Super Bowl in standard definition "lost a big chunk of the game and halftime show due to technical issues." The analog signal of KTTV-Fox "went dark toward the end of the second quarter and was not repaired until about midway through the third quarter." However, the feed of Time Warner Cable's HD channel carrying Fox' coverage "was not interrupted." The company "didn't say how many viewers lost the signal and were without digital boxes" to view the HD feed (L.A. TIMES, 2/3).

INTERNATIONAL APPEAL: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir notes the Super Bowl is watched in nearly 200 countries, and last night's game "was called (or reported) in Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Danish, Russian, Spanish, Hungarian, Portuguese and the English spoken in Britain over a feed distributed by NFL Films." Those countries where the local language "is not superimposed on the broadcast" heard the call of Bob Papa and Charles Davis. Their mission "was to offer a simpler version of the game ... and a lot of storytelling and explanations of plays to appeal to a broad international audience with a knowledge of football that ranges from novices to American expatriates." They were "light on statistics but slipped in definitions of touchbacks, coaches’ challenges and intentional grounding" that Buck and Aikman "did not need to use" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/3).

SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT: In N.Y., David Carr looks at the power of big events and the NFL as a media platform. Carr writes, “At a time of atomization in which we all end up down the hobbit holes of our special interests, big live television fulfills a need to have something, anything, in common.” Carr: “Even when network television is staring down a dreary landscape, the National Football League’s numbers are in a class by themselves. ... And just in case you think it’s just a bunch of boys guzzling beers and making burp jokes or worse, women make up 35 percent of the average NFL audience” (N.Y. TIMES, 2/3).
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