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CBS Makes Big Super Bowl Push With Weeklong Coverage Across Networks, Platforms

Super Bowl XLVI End Zone Play - H 2012
Getty Images
Super Bowl XLVI

“If you have the biggest event on television it’s important to maximize it,” said CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus.

The NFL is one of the few sure ratings generators in an increasingly time-shifted universe. So CBS is flooding the zone for its coverage of Super Bowl XLVII, enlisting virtually all of the assets of CBS Corporation – including CBS News, CBS Sports Network, Showtime, syndication, daytime and late-night – in coverage of the game, Feb. 3 from the Superdome in New Orleans.

“It’s unlike anything we’ve done at the Super Bowl before,” Sean McManus, chairman, CBS Sports, told The Hollywood Reporter.

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In the past, the sports division would begin their coverage late morning the day of the game, while CBS News would generally broadcast its morning show from the Super Bowl city. But this year the network’s broadcast center – dubbed CBS Super Bowl Park – in New Orleans’s historic Jackson Square will be home to 15 different shows beginning Monday, Jan. 28, a full six days before game day.

“If you have the biggest event on television it’s important to maximize that value, not just for the sports division but for the rest of corporation as well,” noted McManus.

CBS This Morning will broadcast from New Orleans Thursday through Saturday. The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley and CBS Evening News Saturday will broadcast from Jackson Square Friday and Saturday. Bob Schieffer will kick off CBS’ Super Bowl Sunday programming with a special edition of Face the Nation at 10:30 a.m. The Talk will broadcast from New Orleans Monday through Friday in front of a live audience, while OMG! Insider host Kevin Frazier will be in the Big Easy all week. Craig Ferguson will host a special Sunday edition of The Late Late Show to air after the network’s episode of Elementary – which landed the coveted post-Super Bowl slot. Showtime’s Inside the NFL – hosted by James Brown, Phil Simms and Cris Collinsworth – will have a Super Bowl edition the Wednesday before the game. And the CBS Sports Network will leverage interest in the year’s most-watched telecast to get eyeballs to CBS Sports Network with several programs originating from New Orleans including daily editions of Inside the Super Bowl and Super Bowl Live, NFL QB Monday, late-night program Lead Off  and Jim Rome’s show Rome. Meanwhile CBSSports.com will have a daily one-hour show hosted by Kevin Corke and various NFL experts. And James Brown, Dan Marino, Bill Cowher, Shannon Sharpe and Boomer Esiason will kick off the broadcast network’s coverage of the game Sunday afternoon.

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“We’re really showcasing all the different platforms at CBS," noted McManus. "It’s exciting, but it’s daunting because the size of the actual production in Jackson Square rivals what we’re doing at the game itself.”

Asked how much all of this will cost, McManus deadpanned: “All I can say is a lot.”

But he was quick to point out that CBS will make money on the game – which is nearly sold out of ad inventory at an average cost of $3.8 million for a 30-second spot - up from $3.5 million last year.

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“It’s expensive until you realize the kind of money that is generated on this day from advertising sales in the game itself, all of the pre-game programming, plus the one-hour entertainment show that follows,” said McManus. “The production budgets seem significant but they pale in comparison to the amount of revenue that is generated on this day.”

Indeed, some spots have gone for more than $4 million. And CBS expects to rake in more than $225 million in ad revenue on the game alone.

The last time CBS had the Super Bowl was three years ago in Miami when Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints came from behind to beat Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. That game was watched by 106.5 million viewers and snapped the decades-old TV ratings record held by the final episode of M*A*S*H. Since then, the Super Bowl has set a new ratings record each year. Last year’s game on NBC was watched by more than 111 million viewers. Of the five most-watched telecasts in TV history, four are Super Bowls.

Email: Marisa.Guthrie@thr.com; Twitter: @MarisaGuthrie