An estimated 111 million people watched the Green Bay Packers defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers at last year's Super Bowl, making it the most watched TV program ever and further solidifying the annual game's status as the year's biggest television event. Now, "NBC Universal has masterminded a plan to get every last ounce of viewership from" NBC's coverage of the Super Bowl on Feb. 5, says James Hibberd at Entertainment Weekly. NBC Universal just unveiled a Super Bowl-themed programming onslaught that amounts to more than 18 hours of coverage across its many networks, in the hopes of shoring up its shaky bottom line. This "shows how far today's media behemoths can go in milking [what's become] the Woodstock of corporate America," says Michael Hiestand in USA Today. Here, four highlights from this relentless initiative:
1. Jimmy Fallon is leaving New York
"For the first time in the show's history," says The Hollywood Reporter, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon is hitting the road. The Emmy-nominated late-night talk show will air four shows live from host city Indianapolis, including one after the big game. The endeavor "will break new ground for late-night comics, says Hiestand, and set a new precedent. From this point on, such shows will be expected to make a major effort each year at Super Bowl time.
2. Plenty of NBC Universal's news shows are hitting the road, too
Beginning next Friday, the Today show will send Al Roker and Ann Curry to host from the Pan Am plaza in downtown Indianapolis. The E! channel and Access Hollywood will anchor their respective entertainment news shows from Indiana for the majority of Super Bowl week, and the Weather Channel will boast live, on-location Super Bowl-related weather updates. (Umm, Hibberd says. "This year the game is played indoors.") Even the Golf Channel will air several of its programs from Indianapolis — and that network is "about a whole different sport."
3. Even reality shows are getting in on the action
Expect football tie-ins — however strained — from Bravo's Top Chef, NBC reality competitions Fashion Star and The Voice, technology show Gadget Pr0n on G4, a party-planning special on the Style network, and programs on Spanish language Telemundo. Even NBC's in-flight programming for American Airlines will contain Super Bowl-related features, adds Kelly West at Cinema Blend. Basically, says Chris Ariens at Media Bistro, "if you turn on any NBCU channel or watch any NBC-produced program you will see Super Bowl-themed programming next week." This isn't without precedent, says Hiestand. When NBC aired the Super Bowl three years ago, "Bob Costas turned up on the cable show Monk and Top Chef was worked into the pregame show."
4. And some lucky shows will get extra-privileged treatment
The post-Super Bowl time slot is a coup for any TV program. Last year, Glee bagged its highest ratings ever and became the top-rated scripted telecast in three years after its post-game airing. This year, NBC is giving the lucrative slot to the second season premiere of its hit singing competition The Voice. But it's not the only show NBC hopes to reap Super Bowl-related benefits. "In addition," says The Hollywood Reporter, "the network will heavily promote the musical drama Smash, which many industry insiders have dubbed a make-or-break show" for the struggling network.