CBS Starts Countdown to Super Bowl XXXV

By Doug Young

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – MTV gets to play at Super Bowl XXXV under an ambitious programming schedule announced on Thursday by CBS, which gets to show television’s most watched sporting event for the first time since 1992.

CBS said on Thursday it plans to draw heavily on the youth-oriented programming talents of the hipster cable channel, its sister network since CBS merged with MTV parent Viacom Inc. last May.

The network plans to blitz pigskin fans and non-fans alike with 18 hours of Super Bowl tie-in programs in the weekend leading up to the game on Jan. 28. During the game itself, CBS hopes to earn between $2.3 million and $2.4 million for each 30-second advertising spot.

The same kind of airtime would have sold for about $50,000 when the Super Bowl first took flight in the 1960s, according to CBS.

Among the programs that CBS plans to air with MTV help are a Saturday night Super Bowl party broadcast live from Tampa, an “Uncensored” look at stories behind the game and the game’s halftime show.

“All the work we’re doing with MTV … is a continuation of this really, really successful and complete interaction with our Viacom brethren,” said Sean McManus, president of CBS Sports, at the first of what will likely be dozens of media events and news conferences leading up to the game.

“This (Super Bowl) weekend is maybe one of the best examples of corporate synergy that’s ever been seen in the media world.”

The Super Bowl lovefest will kick off on Friday Jan. 26 when early birds can watch Bryant Gumbel, Jane Clayson and Mark McEwen on “The Early Show” broadcast live from Tampa.

The morning team will make an encore performance, returning Monday with a show featuring the first evictee from the new “Survivor” series set to premier after the game.

In between, other programs slated to run over the weekend include a one-hour special on the greatest Super Bowl commercials, a “Road to the Super Bowl” special featuring footage from the regular season and playoffs and “The Phil Simms 2000 All-Iron Team,” where game announcers will name the 15 players and one coach who best represent the qualities of an “iron men.”

“No network has ever committed this many resources or this many hours of diverse programming around the Super Bowl,” McManus said. “It’s going to be an historic weekend for CBS and the Super Bowl.”