SUPER BOWL XLIX
New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks
Venue: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m.
Super Bowl Party, privacy or Downton?
Planning to watch The Big Game at home (or at the home of a friend)? You're not alone, obviously. But according to a recent survey by Burson-Marsteller's sports arm, Fan Experience, most of you actually prefer it that way.
The survey indicated 69 percent of fans would rather watch at home with family and friends than in person. Only 23 percent would prefer to see it in the flesh. The other 8 percent presumably would rather watch "Downton Abbey."
Another finding: 51 percent of Americans think of the Super Bowl primarily as a social event or "entertainment spectacle," the other 49 percent primarily as a sports event. Hmm. "Both" apparently was not an option.
Americans will wing it
The sub chain Blimpie commissioned a survey of Americans' Super Bowl-related food preferences because, well, it hoped journalists would write items such as this one.
And what did we learn from the surely unbiased Blimpie folks?
That more than one in three people rank subs as their favorite Super Bowl party food!
Fifty-three percent of Americans would like a healthier Super Bowl party spread, but apparently they fail, as 41 percent say they eat more calories on Super Bowl Sunday than on Thanksgiving.
In other words: Not much celery will be served, other than the stalks that come with chicken wings.
On a related note, the personal finance social network WalletHub reported 1.25 billion wings will be consumed today.
The most commonly named annoyances about a Super Bowl party, according to the Blimpie survey:
51% People who don't control their children
50% Those who are too serious about the game
47% Running out of food and drinks
NBC eyes record viewership
At about $4.5 million per 30-second commercial, NBC expects today to be "the biggest day for ad revenue in television history,''' according to NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus.
More difficult to predict are ratings and viewership, closely watched numbers for every Super Bowl -- even if the numbers widely are believed to be underestimated because many people watch in groups at parties or in bars.
Lazarus said he would love to achieve the first 50 rating in Super Bowl history -- meaning half the households in America were tuned in -- but that is extremely unlikely.
The record of 49.1 was set for Super Bowl XVI (Bengals vs. 49ers) in 1982, in a far less fragmented media environment.
More achievable is surpassing the average 111.5 million viewers for last year's game at MetLife Stadium -- the largest audience in U.S. television history.
Lazarus contradicted network executive tradition by actually giving an answer when someone asked if he has a goal for today's viewership.
"To be the biggest thing ever viewed,''' he said. "Over 125 million would be a nice number.''
The Beckham watch
Everyone complains about how long and bad Super Bowl pregame shows are, but no one does anything about it.
NBC will give it a try with six hours’ worth Sunday because it can, and because it’s tradition, and because (some) people actually do watch.
One certain highlight for Giants fans: The popular trick-shot troupe “Dude Perfect’’ created a video that includes an appearance by Odell Beckham Jr., who already during his stay in Arizona has made a circus catch in the Pro Bowl and set a world record by catching 33 passes one-handed in 60 seconds.
Other than that, well, let’s see . . . Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski will report from the Super Bowl Tailgate Party; Ravens coach John Harbaugh will appear as a guest analyst; DeflateGate developments will be updated; quarterbacks will be interviewed; former Newsday sports part-timer Liam McHugh will host coverage from the stadium; Savannah Guthrie will interview Barack Obama; Jimmy Roberts will interview three fans who have attended every Super Bowl.
Anything else? Oh: Josh Elliott will interview halftime headliner Katy Perry.
There is a traditional pace to these things, as host Dan Patrick noted: “We’re a lot broader before we start in the first couple of hours, then all of a sudden you get two hours to kickoff, and it changes. You almost put your game face on.’’
Added producer Sam Flood: “The closer we get to the game, the more we are locked and loaded on this football game.’’
Eventually, the game will begin. Former Newsday paper boy Al Michaels will handle Super Bowl play-by-play for the ninth time and Cris Collinsworth will work his third as an analyst.
Sideline reporter Michele Tafoya also is on her third Super Bowl gig.
Katy Perry picks football games, and likes it
Carrie Underwood will open NBC's coverage today with a customized version of her usual Sunday night theme song, called "Waiting All Day for a Super Bowl Fight."
But that will be only the start of a musical afternoon dominated by female headliners.
Syosset's own Idina Menzel is slated for the national anthem.
Katy Perry will handle halftime, capping a football season during which she correctly predicted victories for Ole Miss (over Alabama) and Mississippi State (over Texas A&M) on ESPN's "College GameDay" Oct. 4. She celebrated in an Oxford, Mississippi, saloon by chugging a beer while standing on a bar, then jumping into the crowd.
Beyond Super TV
NBCSports.com plans the company's biggest-ever digital presence for the game, notably "Super Stream Sunday," in which 11 live hours of pregame, game, halftime and postgame will be streamed without need for a log-in. The streaming will include the special Ch. 4 postgame episode of "The Blacklist" following coverage.
Just for fun, a selection (via Wikipedia) of post-Super Bowl programs over the years:
2014: "New Girl" and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"
2012: "The Voice"
2009: "The Office"
2006 :"Grey's Anatomy"
2002: "Malcolm in the Middle"
1998: "3rd Rock From the Sun"
1988: "The Wonder Years"
1985: "MacGruder and Loud"
1983: "The A-Team"
1973: "The Wonderful World of Disney"
1969: "G.E. College Bowl"
1968: "Lassie" (CBS) and "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" (NBC)
How long will Menzel let it go?
Wacky proposition bets – for entertainment purposes only, please! – are a Super Bowl tradition, even though the Nevada sports books are restricted to stuff that happens on the field.
In other words, no bets on which song Katy Perry will sing first at halftime.
Fortunately online, non-Nevada books such as Bovada have more latitude, hence: the co-favorites for Ms. Perry’s opener are “Firework’’ and “Roar,’’ both at 3/2.
Other highlights from Bovada’s long, strange list:
Over/under on length of Idina Menzel’s national anthem: 2:01
Color of hoodie will Bill Belichick wear: grey, 1/2 ; blue, 7/4; red, 7/1
Color of Perry’s hair at start of halftime show: black/brown, 2/1; pink/red, 3/1; blue/green, 3/1; blonde, 4/1; purple, 5/1
Over/under on number of times Gisele Bundchen will be shown on TV: 1.5
Over/under for Nielsen rating: 47.5
MVP odds: Tom Brady, 8/5; Russell Wilson, 7/2; Marshawn Lynch, 4/1; Rob Gronkowski, 9/1
Carmelo Anthony points Sunday vs. Patriots points: pick ‘em
By the numbers
Some data from NBC about its Super Bowl-sized undertaking:
4K cameras for game: 5
Miles of camera and microphone cable: 33
Cameras in use for game: 46
NBC Sports Group employees on site in Arizona: 500
Game-day meals served for crew: 1,500
Tafoya returns to sideline
While the goal Sunday for those in the broadcast booth and production truck is to keep things as normal as possible, what is it like on the field for a sideline reporter working amid the Super Bowl chaos?
“Once the game starts and the fans who are given that pregame access and the media who has extra pregame access to the field – once they all sort of dissipate - it does become like a normal game,’’ said NBC sideline reporter Michele Tafoya, who will work her third Super Bowl.
“And from the experience I’ve had, the environment is more electric. And that applies to everyone and everything going on in that building. So there is a different, palpable sense down on the sideline of what is at stake, and how important each and every single moment is.
“But as far as the game itself and the work that I do down there, it’s pretty much the same. And we bring in a couple of extra weapons, I’m not going to say what those are, but some extra eyes, so that we make sure that we don’t miss a thing.
“And that’s our goal, is to not miss a thing down there. So in that regard it’s not a whole lot different once that kickoff happens."
Tafoya said she was proud of a report she offered before Super Bowl XLVI three years ago.
“The last one I did in Indy is [the Patriots’] Rob Gronkowski and his health. And just being able to run over and get to Bill Belichick literally minutes before kickoff, find out what the plan was for Gronk, and to be able to report something like that.
“Live television is exhilarating. Delivering news is exhilarating; it’s why we do this. So those moments are kind of the ones that you live for.
“I would say that honestly the biggest challenge is halftime is a lot longer and getting to both coaches and making sure you have ample time to get what you need. It seems funny, because it’s longer, but logistically it presents some different issues.
“But I just think that moment with Bill, I hadn’t planned it and it just sort of happened. And it was enough of a good bit of information that we were able to present and I think hopefully everything that we do on the sidelines adds and doesn’t get in the way.’’
Tafoya will be tasked with postgame interviews, perhaps of the sort Fox’s Erin Andrews encountered after the NFC Championship Game, when she had to decide whether to ask the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson about the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime or the teary emotions he was exhibiting.
“I think in that case, when he’s in tears, you have to address the emotions first,’’ Tafoya said, “and then you can go back to the play that mattered.
“So, yeah, when you’ve got ?? and I think in a Super Bowl situation you’re going to have ?? those emotions are going to really take over the end of that game. And so that’s where you want to start. You want to start with the big picture. And what that all means.
“And for each player it’s different. We’ve got a guy who has potential to win back?to?back Super Bowls here. And we have a guy who has already won three, two guys that are in different parts of their lives, and their careers, and their circumstances.
“So you’re going to tailor the question to each of those individuals, as well. But absolutely you hope you have enough time to cover the really important stuff and time really does become a factor, as well. What kind of time are you limited to based on what else has to happen in that postgame?’’
NBC aims to keep it simple
One of the pitfalls of Super Bowl coverage is over-using the bells and whistles that network tech people inevitably come up with in an attempt to enhance the viewers’ experience – or perhaps just to show off.
Al Michaels said NBC's veteran crew, including producer Fred Gaudelli and director Drew Esocoff, understands that challenge and how to strike a balance.
“Fred is terrific at the technology; it’s so much greater than it’s been,’’ Michaels said. “But you don’t want the technology to overwhelm the game. I mean, you want it to enhance the game. We have so many things available to us, and I know years ago in doing a bunch of Super Bowls from 10, 15, 18 years ago, one of the first questions that the writers would ask in a press conference is, how many cameras do you have? I think networks feel compelled to, one network did it with 25, then you’re supposed to say 25 or 28 or whatever.
“It would get to the point that you could do the game with 500 cameras, but you don’t need that many. Our guys have them set up that they’re not going to miss anything. You don’t let technology take you beyond where you should. You don’t let the game overwhelm you, either. We know it’s the Super Bowl. We stay calm. Cris [Collinsworth] says you know it’s not another game, but in a way you kind of want to have that attitude of you don’t want to do something that you don’t do.
“Tom Brady is not going to come into the Super Bowl and all of a sudden become a rollout guy who wants to run 18 times. No, what got him to the Super Bowl is what’s going to maybe make him win another Super Bowl, by doing what he does. And that’s what we try to do.
“We don’t try to do anything over?the?top. We’ve been there, we’ve done that and it’s just kind of rolling with the punches.’’
Gaudelli said the network also picks its spots carefully when it comes to engaging in social media during a telecast.
“When Odell Beckham made that phenomenal catch on ‘Sunday Night Football’ against the Cowboys in November, immediately LeBron James tweeted out, ‘I think I just watched the greatest catch I’ve ever seen.’ And we saw it. We put it on the screen, because someone like LeBron, if you’re capturing his attention, and he’s really giving praise, it’s worth telling America about.
“We’re always prepared for situations like that, but there really isn’t any direct plan to use social media during the game on Sunday.’’
So, no tweets from fans or athletes running across the bottom of the screen during the game?
“No,’’ Gaudelli said, “unless LeBron wants to say something.’’
ESPN is in Arizona, too!
While it is NBC’s turn to be in the Super Bowl spotlight, other TV entities are on the case. None more so, naturally, than ESPN.
The Bristol Stompers will offer a four-hour “NFL Countdown’’ from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time, featuring a long list of reporters, pundits and host Chris Berman, working his 33rd Super Bowl.
ESPN sent a detailed breakdown of its plans for the show, ranging from the serious to the silly.
The latter includes a mock feature on Bill Belichick in which Frank Caliendo will do impressions of Andrew Luck, Lou Holtz, Bill Parcells and Berman.
Oh, and this: At 1 p.m. there will be a feature called “I am Confetti,’’ that ESPN described this way:
“A first-person narrative of what it feels like to be a piece of confetti in the postgame Super Bowl celebration.’’