CBS goes long with broad Super Bowl programming

Friday December 01 02:06 AM EST

By Michele Greppi

NEW YORK (The Hollywood Reporter) — CBS is going to turn the weekend of the NFL’s championship game into the Super Bowl of corporate synergy.

About 18 hours of programming — some produced by sister network MTV and some from CBS’ entertainment, news and sports divisions– will air on the network Jan. 27 and 28.

That’s on top of the broadcast of the Super Bowl itself, which kicks off at 6:25 p.m. EST Jan. 28 in Tampa, Fla. The premiere of “Survivor: The Australian Outback” follows the game.

“No network has ever committed this many resources, this many hours of diverse programming around the Super Bowl,” CBS Sports president Sean McManus said during a conference call Thursday about the first Super Bowl to be broadcast on CBS since 1992. The network was out of the pro football picture from 1993-98.

The game is a monster showcase for CBS Sports’ NFL on-air talent. Greg Gumbel and Phil Simms will call the game, and “The NFL Today” crew is deployed for the pregame show. Super Bowl XXXV is a revenue magnet, with spots going for as much as $2.4 million per 30 seconds. The game is also a chance to bring new — and presumably younger — viewers to the broadcast network whose audience has the highest median age, 52.1 years.

And CBS’ morning show, which just can’t get out of third place, will originate from Tampa on the Friday before the big game. “The Early Show” will still be in Tampa the Monday after the Super Bowl.

But the CBS warm-up act will begin in earnest at noon EST Jan. 27 with “Road to the Super Bowl,” an hourlong compendium of NFL Films highlights from this season.

Primetime Saturday will be filled with Super Bowl preliminaries, starting at 8 p.m. with “The Greatest Super Bowl Commercials,” which is contributed by CBS Entertainment. That will be followed by “CBS Saturday Night Super Bowl Special,” a live-music party produced by MTV, and “CBS Presents: MTV’s Super Bowl Uncensored,” which will be produced in cooperation with the NFL and be about untold back stories rather than scandals from past Super Bowls.

The real marathon begins at noon EST Sunday with “CBS Presents: MTV’s TRL@The Super Bowl,” with “Total Request Live” host Carson Daly mixing it up in Tampa with musical acts, celebrities and NFL players.

At 1 p.m. EST, it’ll be “The Phil Simms 2000 All-Iron Team” with CBS Sports reporter Armen Keteyian and Simms’ mother and on hand for the second annual presentation of an old-fashioned iron to 15 standout players and one coach.

At 2 p.m. EST, Dan Dierdorf hosts “Extreme Super Bowl,” during which Sony PlayStation 2 technology will allow Dierdorf and his fellow analysts to step onto the Xs and Os on a virtual field.

From 3-6 p.m. EST, it will be the pregame show from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, followed by the “Kick-Off Show.” The game itself will be broadcast in high-definition format with eight of CBS Sports’ cameras dedicated to maximizing the visual impact of that technology.

MTV will produce the halftime show, but announcements of talent are a week or two away.

After the postgame show, “Survivor” returns with new contestants (to be named in January) and host Jeff Probst.

McManus said no ratings projections for the game have been made. He also brushed off claims that producing two more hours than ABC did last January with its Super Bowl package will test the limits of viewer interest.

“If the programming wasn’t so diverse, I think we probably would have reached the saturation point,” the CBS Sports chief said.

And when asked if all the additional hoohaw isn’t a symptom of entertainment’s creep into sports, McManus said, “Once the game starts, it’s pure football coverage.”