CBS already warming up its Super Bowl hype


A network normally might not be so giddy about broadcasting a Super Bowl, but it has been so long for CBS — nearly nine years, almost as long as it has been since the game was last in Tampa — that a little hyperbole is expected.

Enthusiasm was the order of the day when CBS announced its programming lineup leading up to the Jan. 28 Super Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. There were no major announcements (we still don’t know who will perform at halftime or sing the national anthem) but the powers-that-be waxed on anyway.

“When the Super Bowl is over,” CBS Sports president Sean McManus said Thursday, “I think people will look back and say, “Boy, that’s about as good as I can remember anybody doing it.’ ”

So far the unique aspect of Viacom-owned CBS’s plans are the amount of Super Bowl-related programming — nearly 19 hours — and the network’s joint efforts with MTV, also owned by Viacom.

The plan means lots of exposure for the Tampa Bay area, and for the Gumbel brothers. Bryant Gumbel’s Early Show will broadcast from Tampa the Friday morning before and the Monday after the game, which will be called by Greg Gumbel and Phil Simms.

At noon Saturday, CBS will show NFL Films’ Road to the Super Bowl. That night’s prime-time lineup will feature an hour on the greatest Super Bowl commercials, an hourlong live party from Tampa, and a show called MTV’s Super Bowl Uncensored (don’t get too excited; it’s produced in cooperation with the NFL).

On Sunday, in addition to assorted pregame programming counting down to kickoff, CBS will show a football-related version of MTV’s wildly popular Total Request Live, broadcast from Tampa. Included in Sunday’s programming will be as much Tampa-area color as possible, McManus said.

“Tampa on that day is going to be the center of the sporting universe,” he said.

Also airing Sunday: a feature recalling the last time that happened: Super Bowl XXV in Tampa in 1991, when the Bills missed a field goal with four seconds left and the Giants won 20-19, and an at-war nation got teary watching Whitney Houston sing (that is, lip-synch) the national anthem.

“It was one of the most memorable Super Bowls for all sorts of reasons,” McManus said. “We’re planning on doing a major look back on that Super Bowl centered around (former Giants quarterback) Jeff Hostetler.”

The halftime show will be produced by MTV, which plans to announce the entertainer(s) within a few weeks.

BIG MONEY: Now this is a reason to get excited.

CBS expects to sell more than $200-million worth of advertising for the Super Bowl, an average of $2.4-million for each 30-second commercial spot. As of earlier this week, the network had sold about 80 percent of its available spots.

The network also is elated about the premiere of Survivor: The Australian Outback after the game. “Post Super Bowl, we expect to be close to first place if not in first place,” CBS Television chief executive Leslie Moonves said.

BULLS WATCH: For better or worse, the University of South Florida will be big-time in the next couple of days. First is kicker Bill Gramatica’s appearance with brother/Bucs kicker Martin and the rest of his family on ESPN. The spot, rescheduled several times in the past month, has been changed again to Saturday’s 6 p.m. SportsCenter.

Watch for it also on ESPN news this weekend.

Meanwhile, HBO’s December installment of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel — that name again — will feature a report on the racial discrimination accusations against women’s basketball coach Jerry Ann Winters and USF. The show premieres at 10 p.m. on Tuesday.

– Information from other news organizations was used in this report.