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Gearing up for the Super Bowl

Ron Chakraborty Ron Chakraborty | 12:39 UK time, Sunday, 1 February 2009

You know you're at a big event when the relative quiet of the afternoon's scripting, rigging and preparation is shattered by half a dozen flighter jets flying over the stadium next door.

But when those fighters are asked to come back and do it again to make sure the timing with the end of the National Anthem is absolutely perfect - it can only be the Super Bowl.

The aerial fun and games caused a commotion in the muddy little compound set aside for International broadcasters yesterday, but everyone was soon back to work. There are a dozen or so pre-fab huts here - we're sharing one with the Italians, next to us are the Germans, then the Japanese, then oddly enough, Disney.

I remember writing last year that the Super Bowl has an Olympic scale to it, except that it's a single day event, and having been to Beijing in between last year's game and this, I haven't changed my mind - all the billboards and banners hanging off streetlights, posters in every shop window, it's quite a spectacle.

Having said all that, it's clear that the Super Bowl isn't immune to the global downturn. It was a major talking point at NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's 'State of the League' press conference yesterday. The NFL has been forced to lay off employees, there's been a struggle to fill those once-precious half-time advertising slots in the US, and for the first time ever the number of media accreditations for the big game has gone down this year.

It's had an effect on our plans too - the massive difference in exchange rates between last year and this means that something like a video feed cable which costs $1,000 is a lot more in pounds this year than it was last year.

Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street band meet the media

That's one of the reasons we've kept things relatively simple with our coverage. We'd love to be broadcasting the game in HD for example, but financially it was never a realistic option.

Despite all the financial issues surrounding the event, it still promises to be a typical Super Bowl extravaganza. The game itself should provide another fascinating encounter, with the underdog Arizona Cardinals hoping to stop the Pittsburgh Steelers from winning the Vince Lombardi trophy a record sixth time.

Once again Jake Humphrey and Mike Carlson will be joined in our studio by Rod Woodson, which is great news for us, not just because he's a Steelers legend, or because he's back at the scene of his own Super Bowl win with the Baltimore Ravens, but also because he's among the candidates for induction for the Pro Football Hall of Fame at the weekend - and he'll be in a great mood if he gets in. Fingers crossed.

The one major change we've made is that we're going to take the NBC network coverage this year rather than the World Feed commentary offered by the NFL that we used last time. Quite simply, we just couldn't pass on John Madden. Being a bit of an old sentimentalist, it's just nice to add his name to the list of commentary legends that have appeared on the BBC down the years.

And for those once-a-year viewers who like their coverage a little more inclusive, we'll also have Radio 5 Live's pairing of Arlo White and Greg Brady on the Red Button.

I'll finish as I started with one of those 'only at the Super Bowl' moments. I've seen plenty of press conferences in my time, the vast majority of them pretty dull, but nothing compared to the pandemonium surrounding the Bruce Springsteen briefing on Thursday.

While there's much anticipation surrounding his half-time show on Sunday night, I understand it was also the first time in around 22 years that Bruce and the E-Street Band had agreed to do a presser. As a result, there were hundreds of journalists jumping over each other to get a decent seat, and when it came to TV crews, I lost count at 50.

Fortunately, Bruce was honest enough to bring his legendary working man's touch to proceedings. When asked why he'd finally agreed to perform at the Super Bowl this year rather than any other year, he simply replied: "Because I got an album out, dummy."

I guess even the Boss ain't recession-proof.


  • Comment number 1.

    bruce!! legend
    and john madden can beat him
    should be good just to bad that its on at midnightish and i start tomoro at 9am :/ will be very tired then! =D

  • Comment number 2.

    dont worry gaz. i feel your pain as i too have a 9am start!

    but i wouldnt miss this for the world

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    The BBC provided excellent coverage last year, but this year with the inclusion of Michaels and Madden will make things even better.

  • Comment number 7.

    slaptonhatter_matt, I personally believe that Jake Humphreys has done an excellent job with the Wembley games and last years Superbowl too but your comment about "the rest of the people" probably hav(ing) no clue about American football" is utterly ridiculous - Mike Carlson is widely regarded as the best NFL pundit on British TV and Rod Woodson has just been elected into the NFL Hall Of Fame.

    If I were being churlish, personally, I would say that it's you who has no clue about American football. Just think before you type...

  • Comment number 8.

    I'm so excited about tonight, really hope that the Cardinals show up and make a game of it - the Pittsburgh defence will have a field day if Arizona get it wrong.

    I'm glad that the BBC is putting in the effort to bring this wonderful spectacle to the UK, but I'll be going with Sky on this one. Their coverage is simply more sophisticated - perhaps if the popularity of the NFL continues to grow, the Beeb will be able to stretch for an American Football specialist as anchor!

  • Comment number 9.

    Bruce makes this the best Superbowl ever. Many fans have turned up purely to see him. Who cares about football when the Boss is around? Having touched him during a live concert I can firmly say that seeing him live is a once in a lifetime opportunity!!

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    Its nice that the BBC covers the Superbowl but its a bit here and there.
    1. Sky Sports has it on HD, the BBC doesnt
    2. The BBC's coverage is the same as Sky's, so I cant see the difference (only if you dont have Sky)
    3.Why did the BBC cut the Wembley Game to BBC 3?
    4. The BBC thinks we are stupid and goes through the rules, every single time...please we know the rules by now!

    I think Skys coverage wins handsdown for myself..the BBC still lags behind but for those without sky its good but for those with Sky its basic.

    If only Jake can be more eccentric with the Sports he covers, he could be more liked for F1 in March then he is now!
    C'mon Jake!

  • Comment number 12.

    I have finished watching the Super Bowl on U.S. Television....

    It was very interesting and great programme.

    ~Dennis Junior~

  • Comment number 13.


    Bruce Springsteen's concert was very wonderful to see the BOSS In concert...

    ~Dennis Junior~

  • Comment number 14.

    great coverage, realy enjoyed the superbowl coverage, we saw more of the game and the inbetween bits that we normaly miss on sky due to the adverts, please bring it back next year.

  • Comment number 15.

    As I don't watch American Football at all I tuned in to the Superbowl expecting to see a bunch of padded men pushing each other around. It was. And it was quite good really.

    But the thing that struck me and still baffles me is the stoppages in play. They played just ten seconds before NBC took a break. Why is this? It took over half an hour to play 15 mins of actual play. Can regular fans accept this? I can understand that is at the match you can get a burger but to watch on TV seriously irritating, especially late at night.

    I know its fashionable to criticise Jake Humphrey these days but I can see why he got promoted. He is quite professional, does his homework and is articulate. Not all common these days. How he fares on F1 will be revealed in a few months. He doesn't look the kind to suit that sport but maybe he will fit it well. In Steve Rider and Jim Rosenthal he has big boots to fill.

  • Comment number 16.

    Re #15 - Yes, the game stops a lot for US ad breaks. Personally I quite like this as it allows some in-depth analysis from the studio team, or from the American commentators when not in commercial.

    A typical regular-season NFL game (Super Bowl is different because of the extended half-time) take around 3 hours to complete. This is comparable to the major US summer sport, baseball, but it seems slightly long from a UK perspective because we're used to seeing soccer / rugby games completed in around 2 hours from kick-off to final whistle

  • Comment number 17.

    Don't know much about american football (is it still called gridiron?) but have enjoyed the BBC's coverage over the past couple of years?

    When will we find out if you are continuing with it?

    If you do make sure you keep the same studio line-up.

  • Comment number 18.

    4. The BBC thinks we are stupid and goes through the rules, every single time...please we know the rules by now!


    You might, the majority of viewers do not know more than the very basics. That's what happens when we basically only get one game a year.

    How about the BBC look into getting a 30 minute highlight/recap show put on weekly?

  • Comment number 19.

    Since Channel Five has (until now) been showing a Monday Night game every week of the season, there's been more than "one a year". The BBC isn't the end of free-to-air TV, you know.

  • Comment number 20.

    Excellent Super Bowl coverage, I started the evening watching NASN, however, I found the BBC's approach superior. Jake Humphrey anchored the show with the calmness of a Des Lynham in his prime.

    The only small gripe I have, is the continued explanations of the rules, I understand that for many viewers this will be their first exposure to American Football, yet for me it does become a bit repetitive.


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