Fox Girds for Record Bowl

Jan 27, 2008  •  Post A Comment

For Fox, Super Bowl XLII is poised to break more than a few all-time records, and the network is out to make the most of it.
With a sold-out ad inventory, prices for 30-second ad spots running between $2.6 million and $3 million and a seasonlong ratings uptrend that follows the undefeated New England Patriots, optimistic Fox executives are out to deliver something for everyone with their telecast.
“I was surprised at last year’s Super Bowl at the number of celebrities that were turning up and coming in as pure fans of the game,” said David Hill, chairman and CEO of Fox Sports. “I thought to myself that if I could combine the X’s and O’s of football for the hard-core sports fan with the celebrity personalities that attend the event, I’d have a potent combination that would serve both types of fans.”
Setting the stage are two big-market teams that have been involved in each of the top five most-watched programs of the 2007-08 television season, the Patriots and the New York Giants. The Jan. 20 NFC championship game between the Giants and the Green Bay Packers averaged 53.9 million viewers, the most-watched program other than Super Bowls since the 1998 “Seinfeld” series finale, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Meanwhile, the Patriots’ quest for a perfect season has become the hands-down sports television story of the year. In recent weeks, the Patriots have delivered the two biggest regular-season ratings of the year (a 20.1 in Week 9 and Week 14’s 18.4), the best NBC “Sunday Night Football” rating ever (13.4 in Week 12), and the biggest NFL cable rating ever (11.1 in Week 13), not to mention the NFL Network/CBS/NBC trio multicasting of the Patriots-Giants matchup in week 17 that attracted 34.5 million viewers.
For Fox, the NFC Championship Game capped one of the biggest weeks in the network’s history thanks to the NFL and “American Idol.” Fox averaged a 9.5 rating/24 share for the week ended Jan. 20 among adults 18 to 49. It was the highest-rated non-Super Bowl week in Fox history, as well as the highest-rated week on any network in 14 years, excluding Super Bowl and Olympic weeks. The network’s remarkable week has entrenched Fox in first place for the season to date, with a 0.3 point cushion over ABC, CBS and NBC.
Bolstered by football and “Idol,” Fox executives announced last year that they would combine the two worlds for the Glendale, Ariz.-based Super Bowl spectacular, signing “Idol’s” Ryan Seacrest to host the pre-game festivities as well as snagging Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson for the half-time show.
“I was blown away by Ryan’s work for the ‘American Idol’ charity show, and wanted to call him in and talk with him about that Super Bowl gig,” Mr. Hill said. “Later, Randy and Paula came to see me and we were officially on our way to meld the two greatest iconic television shows on the air.”
“We’re going to cover it like a worldwide event, and also show its glitz and glamour,” Mr. Seacrest said during a conference call with reporters last week. “Celebrities look forward to the [Super Bowl], lots of people walk the red carpet, and we’ll cover it as it unfolds.”
The game will be called by Fox’s Joe Buck and Troy Aikman while Curt Menefee, Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and Jimmy Johnson work the pre-game with Mr. Seacrest.
Last year’s Super Bowl on CBS drew a 42.6 national rating with an estimated 93.2 million viewers tuning in.

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