Everyone knows the Super Bowl is the most-watched broadcast on television for the year. But it's mind-boggling just how watched it is.
Last year's Super Bowl was watched by an average of 97.5 million people. The next most-watched non-NFL show in 2008 was the opening ceremony of the Beijing Summer Olympics. How many watched that? A mere average of 34.9 million, a staggering difference of 62.6 million people.
Here's a look at the past five years:
Year Super Bowl Avg. viewers Next non-NFL show Avg. viewers Difference
2004 Pats vs. Panthers 89.8 million Friends (series finale) 52.5 million 37.3 million
2005 Pats vs. Eagles 86.1 million Academy Awards 42.1 million 44 million
2006 Steelers vs. Seahawks 90.7 million. Academy Awards 38.9 million 51.8 million
2007 Colts vs. Bears 93.2 million Academy Awards 40.2 million 53 million
2008 Giants vs. Pats 97.5 million Summer Olympics 34.9 million 62.6 million
Cast of thousands
NBC already has one of the most crowded football shows in the business and this week, it might be scouring yard sales to find extra chairs for all of the analysts who have been added to the pregame show. The usual Football Night in America crew will there: Bob Costas, Cris Collinsworth, Jerome Bettis, Tiki Barber, Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann. There's Peter King, too. As if that weren't enough (and it seems like it should be), NBC added former coaches Tony Dungy and Mike Holmgren, ex-Lions boss Matt Millen and NFL player Rodney Harrison. That makes 11, plus we assume sideline reporters Andrea Kremer and Alex Flanagan and game announcers Al Michaels and John Madden will make at least cameos. The pregame show starts at noon with NFL Films' one-hour Road to the Super Bowl and goes until 6 p.m. It's hard enough to watch football for six hours, let alone a show that just talks about football for six hours. "From time to time, people think these pregame shows are going to become longer and longer," Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports & Olympics, said. "Can I tell you something? There is not day in all of American life where we have this kind of communal experience. Everybody is interested. … This is the one time all year where every ad has people leaning forward in their seats. So we're filling that curiosity throughout the day."
The busiest man Sunday might be Costas, who, as the main host, has to play traffic cop . Costas even joked that the network has to hire construction workers to build extensions onto the set, but he also doesn't think, in the end, it's an issue. "I think that's actually been overrated or overemphasized by a lot of people," he said. " It's seldom, if ever, the case that we're all on the set at the same time. … For me, I'm there to distribute the ball. You're graded on assists, not points."
Another point of view
There has been plenty of Jon Gruden bashing since the Bucs fired him as coach two weeks ago. Ex-players, especially, have gone to the media to criticize Gruden. But one of his backers could be found Wednesday night in St. Petersburg. ESPN analyst and former NFL great Cris Carter was a part of a panel that spoke about sports journalism at the Poynter Institute . In a league full of immature kids and veterans with strong personalities, Carter said Gruden runs a team the way it should be . The coach, Carter said, has to be the one in charge. "I hope there are more coaches coming into the NFL like Jon Gruden," he said, "than coaches who allow players to run the team."
ESPN has hired former Chiefs and Jets coach Herm Edwards as an NFL analyst. Edwards will start in February and will appear on NFL Live, SportsCenter and ESPNews, as well as other TV and ESPN Radio programs. … Speaking of ESPN, the network has between 300 and 400 workers in Tampa this week and will carry the game internationally to more than 40 million households in 117 countries and territories.