It’s now become expected that each Super Bowl will break the previous year’s record to become the most-watched event in television history. So whenever a Super Bowl doesn’t do that (as was the case when CBS had the show in 2013) it’s often seen as a letdown. That means the pressure is on NBC as it prepares for this year’s Super Bowl on Feb. 1. As I wrote at Adweek,
“There would be huge disappointment if we weren’t the most watched show in the history of television after Super Bowl Sunday,” Fred Gaudelli, the coordinating producer for Super Bowl XLIX and Sunday Night Football, admitted to Adweek. “I don’t know that I’d say I feel the pressure of it, but that’s definitely my expectation, that after the game, that it will be the most watched show in the history of television. So it would be a huge disappointment if it wasn’t.”
Gaudelli is hoping for an audience of between 115 million and 120 million, so keep that in mind on Feb. 2 when the ratings come out.
Al Michaels, who will be calling his ninth Super Bowl game, talked at winter press tour about how the NFL has overcome the rocky start to its season, and recalled how much the sport has changed since Super Bowl I — which he was at — was played in front of 35,000 empty seats. Back then, “nobody had any idea that this would evolve into what it’s become,” said Michaels. Now, “it’s an undeclared national holiday. What else is somebody going to do on that particular day?”
That’s a wrap on TCA summer press tour, which means that it’s time for one last story before I leave L.A.: a roundup of noteworthy developments from press tour, which reveal several new truths about the TV industry. Chief among them: Nothing is a ratings guarantee — except football.
Somewhere in the vicinity of 100 shows were paneled at press tour, but as CBS president and CEO Les Moonves pointed out, “When you come back next year, not all of them are still going to be on the air. Even ours. However, this is a sure thing.” He was referring to Thursday Night Football, which is moving to CBS for the first eight weeks of the NFL season (after which it will return to NFL Network, where it has aired since 2006).
As NFL commissioner Roger Goodell noted, “Sunday Night Football is now the number one franchise in all of television. Not just in sports, but in all of television.” Sunday Night Football was indeed the top-rated show on TV last season, averaging 21.5 million viewers. CBS and Fox’s Sunday afternoon broadcasts draw a similarly-sized audience, while ESPN’s Monday Night Football averaged 13.7 million viewers. And the Super Bowl is always the most-watched program each year, with a record 112.2 million viewers tuning in last February. As such, Goodell expects that Thursday Night Football will be “the biggest thing” to happen on TV this season.
There’s lots more about 3D TV, 4K TV, Hulu, Amazon, binge-watching, late-night and series based on comic books. Take a look; now that press tour is over, I’m going to sleep for several days!