This week will take Super Bowl commentary and coverage to astronomical heights. I want to make a few meager comments and then my plan is to ignore the Super Bowl and NFL “stuff” for the rest of the week until I make my Mythical Picks for the game on Friday. [That is my plan; I don’t know if I can achieve that goal.] And do not try to talk me out of making those Mythical Picks; I am doing them no matter what you say…
Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times foreshadowed this year’s Super Bowl coverage:
“Don’t think the Cardinals will dominate the two-week Super Bowl hype? The Steelers have just been installed as 13 ½-word underdogs.”
In case you are concerned about those poor folks on TV who have all that time to fill with blather – think of the stress and strain on the larynxes, oh, the horror of it all – rest assured that NBC has called in reinforcements. For the playoffs, they brought us Matt Millen as an added voice; for the Super Bowl they have signed Tony Dungy and Mike Holmgren to hand out vowels and consonants as others take a break. For those viewers hoping for a little comic relief, I have bad news. Richie Kotite has not been signed to an on-air speaking role…
Every once in a while you hear about the journalistic axiom that the reporter should never be part of the story; he/she needs to report the story. Please keep this in mind on Media Day later this week. Remember last year when one of the reporters of the female persuasion showed up in a wedding gown and asked Tom Brady if he would marry her? So what will someone do this year to draw attention to him/herself? I have a sure-fire way for some reporter to become the center of attention on Media Day simply by the clothing he or she wears to the event:
Wear a Detroit Lions uniform!
Greg Cote of the Miami Herald attended last year’s Super Bowl Media Party. In the haze that followed that event, he arrived at an interesting realization that he expressed in mathematical form:
“Overweight sportswriters + Unlimited free booze + Mechanical Bull = Bad Idea”
NBC asked for $3M per 30-second ad slot for this game. As early as May 2008, NBC claimed to have sold “more than 75% of the inventory”. In early September, NBC said that more than 85% of the time slots were gone and the network hinted that they were going to raise prices as the game drew closer not reduce them. Then the stock market crashed and so forth…
According to a recent report, NBC has sold all but about five of the time slots for next Sunday and that there is increased interest from fast food vendors this year. The expectation is that all of the time-slots will be sold and none will need to be given over to public service spots.
Some data presented in a column by Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning News explains why Super Bowl ads are still a hot commodity even in a slumping economy. The average NFL playoff game this year – there have been ten of them – drew 29.9 million viewers. For perspective, telecasts of the Olympics drew 29.7 million viewers (in the US), the NBA Finals last year drew 9.3 million viewers and the World Series drew 8.4 million viewers. Ad rates and the willingness of ad execs to pay huge fees for time slots correlates with the number of people out there who may be paying attention to the ads’ messages. The NFL in general and the Super Bowl in particular deliver the eyeballs here.
Nonetheless, companies are cutting back and even bowing out of ads for the game. General Motors will not run any ads during the game; many of the “dot-coms” that had survived the dot-com ad blitzes of 5 years ago will also be cutting back. There has been no word of a Danica Patrick ad for this year that had to be edited to become acceptable for TV but which could be viewed in its original/uncut form on the company’s website. That had become a staple of the ramp-up to a Super Bowl. Do you remember last year’s ad when Ms. Patrick made an ad with a beaver? It did little to advance Western Civilization.
Supposedly, Troy Polamalu has done an ad for Coca Cola that reprises the ultra-famous Coke ad from the 1970s where a kid offered Mean Joe Greene a Coke and Mean Joe tossed his jersey to the kid as a souvenir. Coke has done many good ads over the years but that one was probably its best one.
A negative economic note comes from ticket prices for the Super Bowl game itself. According to Reuters, the secondary market for tickets – those being resold to anyone who wants them – is down 38%. No, they did not explain how they measured that drop so I have no idea as to the validity of the number; however, if they say it is down 38%, I think it is safe to assume that resold tix are available at lower prices than in previous years.
I did my own hugely unscientific check on this matter. I went to Stub Hub as a representative site for reselling tickets and browsed through what they had for sale. I saw more than a few “single tickets” there where the asking price was the face value of the ticket. Just that fact tells me that the number of people who “have to be there for the game no matter the cost” is down from previous years.
Actually, this “softness” in the resale market for tickets fits in with the NFL’s desires. When the league announced months ago that it would lower ticket prices for the game due to economic constraints, Roger Goodell stressed that he hoped this did not turn into a bonanza for the ticket resellers. He said that the league would try its best to sell tickets to people in the general public who really wanted to go to the game and not to “cash in” on their good fortune in having tickets.
Finally, Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune writes the Rosenblog on the Trib’s website. Here is his disaster scenario for the outcome of the Super Bowl from a Chicago fan’s perspective:
“We just saw an African-American man become president of the United States, and now the dogbreath Cardinals could win the Super Bowl before the Cubs win a World Series. Dante will have to add another circle of Hell.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…