TV broadcast guide to Super Bowl XLVIII
NEW YORK -- As he conceptualized the pregame show for Super Bowl XLVIII, Fox Sports executive producer Bill Richards had one goal in mind above all:
He wanted a two-state pregame show.
If all goes well Sunday, Fox viewers will get just that. The network's Super Bowl pregame show will kickoff at 2 p.m. EST at Fox's broadcast location in Times Square. At the conclusion of the first hour, co-hosts Terry Bradshaw and Curt Menefee and analysts Jimmy Johnson, Howie Long and insider Jay Glazer will head off in a car to MetLife Stadium. The plan is for the group -- then joined by analyst Michael Strahan -- to return on air in the 4 p.m. hour. "The thing everyone is talking about this year is a New York-New Jersey game and I went after that in the pregame," Richards said. "We will be a two-state pregame show, which is something I really wanted."
Of course, with the first Super Bowl being held outdoors at a cold-weather site, everything will be fluid for Fox -- including the pregame and broadcast -- if weather becomes a factor.
Below, we offer a mini-guide to what you can expect from the Fox's Super Bowl broadcast day:
Pregame Show (2-6 p.m. ET)
The tune-in for this year's pregame show should be higher than previous years given Fox NFL Sunday routinely crushes its competition. The network's usual cast, including Bradshaw (his 10th Super Bowl assignment as a broadcaster) will carry the bulk of the four hours. Game broadcasters Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver and Erin Andrews and rules analyst Mike Pereira will also be part of the pregame.
In speaking with Richards this week, here's a rundown of some of the segments:
• A feature on the New York and New Jersey ties of Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi, who was born in Brooklyn, played at Fordham and coached at Army, St. Cecilia's in New Jersey and with the New York Giants. The piece, produced by PT Navarro, should run in the 4 p.m. hour or early in the 5 p.m. hour. Vin Scully and Archbishop Cardinal Timothy Dolan will appear on camera as part of the piece.
• Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly will conduct a live sit-down interview with President Barack Obama beginning approximately at 4:30 p.m. ET. The interview will take place at the White House and go for about 10 minutes or so.
• Bradshaw has a taped interview with Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath, with the pair walking down Broadway in New York City. That will air sometime in the show's first 90 minutes.
• An examination of some of the great games in New York/New Jersey history, including the 1958 Championship Game between the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants. This will run in the first hour.
• Drawing from the same bad idea grab bag as previous Super Bowl broadcasters, Strahan and Fox Sports Live's Charissa Thompson will interview celebrities on a red-carpet outside MetLife Stadium. Here's footage of how most viewers will feel during this segment.
• A tribute to longtime Fox NFL broadcaster Pat Summerall, who passed away in April, will take to the air in the 3 p.m. ET hour. Buck will lead the tribute.
• As is tradition for Fox, the network will have an on-air reading of the Declaration of Independence with past and present NFL figures: Pats owner Robert Kraft, Joe Andruzzi, Matt Chatham and members of the Boston Police Department; Chuck Bednarik, London Fletcher, Art Monk, Giants owners John Mara, Steve Tisch with Jets owner Woody Johnson, Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Chuck Pagano, Andrew Luck, Raymond Berry, Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas; Art Shell, Tony Gonzalez, JJ Watt, the Watt Family and the Houston Fire Dept.; and Adrian Peterson.
• Richards said Fox will address weather issues depending on what kind of news value it has that day.
• This will be the second Super Bowl pregame show Richards has produced after getting a last-second call to produce the pregame in 2011, when Fox last had the game. The aim is to produce a mixture of entertainment and information, and for the show to steadily get more football-centric as the hour grows closer to kickoff.
Game broadcast (Kickoff scheduled for 6:25 p.m. ET)
Buck and Aikman will call their fourth Super Bowl together, and alongside sideline reporter Oliver (her seventh Super Bowl assignment for Fox), the trio holds the distinction as the NFL's longest-running broadcast team (12 years). Oliver will report on the Seahawks; Andrews is assigned to the Broncos.
Given what happened last year in New Orleans, when the Superdome lost power and the game was delayed by 34 minutes, Fox Sports management said they have spent as much time preparing for potential problems with weather conditions and other contingencies than they have for any broadcast ever. "Last year was a wake-up call to make sure that you at least try to prepare for the unforeseen," said Fox Sports president Eric Shanks. To that end, Fox will have communications with the NFL at all times whether via walkie-talkie radio, phone or some other communication. They also have contingency plans with Fox News should a major story develop.
As for how game director Rich Russo and game producer Richie Zyontz view the game, I profiled both this week for the MMQB.
Officiating analyst Pereira will be located in the corner of the broadcast booth with Buck and Aikman and will be on call if needed. He will communicate non-verbally with Buck and Aikman on minor calls and if there is anything complicated, Fox's producers will often ask him to go on the air. "I will have a mechanism system which will show me the live feed and also one that will allow me to back up any tape so I can make judgments," Pereira said.
Shanks said Fox would love to interview Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman again immediately after the game if he agreed and the situation called for him to be interviewed. "He was kind enough to let us into his world at the moment and that was a courageous thing to do," Shanks said. "It is rare that you get to see that raw emotion. I think It was refreshing even though it lit off a bit of firestorm in social media ... I do agree that [Fox producer] Richie [Zyontz] made the right decision at the right time [to cut the interview short] and I think Erin is not getting enough credit for her follow-up question. The simplest follow-up question [was], 'Who was talking about you?' To have the wherewithal to ask that simple question, I think Erin is not getting enough credit."
Last year's game finished with 108.7 million viewers after hemorrhaging viewers during the blackout delay. That was down from a record high of 111.3 million in 2012. If the game is close -- and I expect it to be -- Fox will top the 112 million mark.
How much do Super Bowl ads cost this year?
Media buyers have placed the cost of a 30-second ad around and above $4 million. Via Ad Age, here's a chart of all the ads that will run during the game. If the game goes to overtime, which Fox execs will be rooting for heavily, the network has already sold a set of ad pods (commercials blocks) to advertisers. The price for those spots would be among the highest for the broadcast.
Who watches the Super Bowl?
Fox says the Super Bowl audience is 53 percent male and 47 percent female. The breakdown for an average regular season NFL game is 64 percent male and 36 percent female.
Is the Super Bowl in a cold-weather city a good idea?
"I don't particularly like playing Super Bowls in cold weather," said Bradshaw. "I don't like any restrictions or excuses. I am happy for my network, because it will bring so much exposure to Fox. And is there a greater city than New York City? From that standpoint, I am thrilled. We have had games in Detroit and Minneapolis, but those are domed stadiums. Super Bowls are all about your network. It's not about us. We are team people here, but I would rather we had the game where it was warm and we could sneak off and play golf."
How bad will Fox's red-carpet interviews be during the pregame?
As horrible as the worst dreams that invade your mind at night.
Will the game be streamed online?
Fox Sports Go will feature two separate live streams of Super Bowl XLVIII, including one in English and the Fox Deportes telecast in Spanish. This will be the first time the Super Bowl is televised and streamed in Spanish in the U.S. The live stream of Super Bowl XLVIII is available on iPads in the Fox Sports Go app and on desktops at www.FOXSportsGO.com.
What Fox shows get the benefit of the massive Super Bowl lead-in?
New Girl (with Prince as a guest star) and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Pam Oliver is assigned to the Seahawks, putting her in position to interview Sherman after the game if circumstances dictated it. What kind of impact did Sherman's interview with Andrews have on her?
None. "It's a no because I think that was a unique situation," Oliver said. "Richard has been counseled probably to not make that mistake again. You can be passionate, in the heat of the moment, but you have to control yourself. I don't know if he realized that the interview was live -- he probably did -- but it happened very quickly. ... Listening to it in my ear piece I was shocked at his tone, and once it got that point, I was actually nervous [for everyone] because he was so out of control. I thought to myself: Let's steer this conversation in the right direction."
If it's weather game, will Pereira discuss how it affects the officials?
Count on it. "I would be prepared to talk about how it impacts them mentally," Pereira said. "Everything is mental and they can wear enough clothes to keep the core of their body warm. To me it is all about concentration, and that is what blows apart because as an official you have a set routine between every play, every official does, and if all of a sudden if it is frozen and you are thinking about being cold, your concentration really gets impacted."
What does Troy Aikman want to know from Denver and Seattle players and coaches during the pregame production meetings?
"My philosophy is keeping it to game questions," Aikman said. "Sometimes there are some nice little stories that come from the meeting, but for the most part, my questions are strategic in nature. How will Denver's receivers try to handle the press? Would they hope the officials let them play? I have been studying Denver's defense and how Terrance Knighton, a 340-pound nose tackle, drops a fair amount into coverage. I want to ask [Broncos defensive coordinator] Jack Del Rio, what they are getting out of that? So maybe Jack says something off that and I get it into the game.
When I am watching film, questions come to mind and I type those questions out on my laptop during my research and I bring that laptop into the production meetings. Then I transcribe all my notes onto a board for the game. Every note that I have had for any game is on file for 13 years. We had Denver early in the year, so I can go back and see what was said in those production meetings. Most of the time it does not really relate to this game but sometimes there are things that do."
How have the ratings been for previous games?
Here's a handle press release from Nielsen that answers all.