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Sean Daly, Michelle Stark and Sharon Kennedy Wynne

Hey Terry Bradshaw! Here's a few new reasons why Sunday's Super Bowl may be TV's most-watched show ever

4

February

superbowl-xlv-2011.jpgDon't bother asking Super Bowl champion quarterback and Fox Sports analyst Terry Bradshaw why more people than ever are watching the NFL on TV this season.

"We don’t know why it is,  really and truthfully, it’s the same game this year as it was last year," said Bradshaw, in a conference call with reporters on Fox's broadcast of the Super Bowl Sunday. "We don’t know if it’s because basketball is primarily on cable or hockey is on some network and they bounce around everywhere. It’s just that America has a passion for our sport, and our games are so pivotal. The magnitude of our games is so intriguing and American, and the viewers look at it and they go, this is one thing we’ve always been able to count on is great matchups, great, great drama, and what a great theater is the NFL."

You’ve likely heard the obvious reasons why the NFL is breaking TV viewership records with every broadcast: The slumping economy is limiting entertainment choices, more people have home theater systems to make the game look great, the performances and matchups have been incredible, and so on.

But even the experts can’t say for sure why more of you are watching football, as most every other kind of TV loses audience share. And with 115-million people expected to show for Sunday’s big game, the NFL is on track to create the most-watched TV event ever.

super-bowl-xlv-2011-fox-256x400.jpgHere are a few more ideas why the Super Bowl has become America’s new campfire:

The TMZ-ification of sports — Brett Favre, Ben Roethlisberger and Rex Ryan likely didn’t enjoy seeing their embarrassing private peccadillos turned into hit-generating viral fodder for gossip sites such as TMZ and Deadspin. But they also gained fame with a segment of the population who might have no idea how many consecutive games Favre started in the NFL or why Roethlisberger seems to get less credit for the Steelers’ success. In an increasingly noisy media universe, even headlines for sexting, sexual assault allegations and foot fetish videos can bring ratings benefits.

The vanishing watercooler effect — We know people love to watch events that they know everyone will talk about the next day. But, TV experts say, as the number of big, universal media events shrink, the ones that remain become even more powerful. Like penguins crowding the last remaining ice floe, we’re all migrating toward the last big TV spectacles, and there is nothing bigger on TV than the year’s biggest football game.

The vanishing NFL effect — As experts increasingly predict a lockout of NFL players due to stalled contract negotiations in March, fans are increasingly aware that Sunday’s Super Bowl may be the last time they see a pro football game for a while. “With the sport right now reaching heights even (legendary NFL commissioner) Pete Rozelle never would have dreamed of, well, we all know what happens to sports after a strike or a lockout,” said Fox Sports Media chairman David Hill, not long after noting that soaring NFL ratings have proven broadcast TV isn’t dead. “People turn away and it takes a while for them to come back. I think that would be a great tragedy.”

[Last modified: Friday, February 4, 2011 10:52am]

    

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