CBS Dials Up the Hype as It Preps for a Super Bowl ‘America Will Never Forget’

Highlights 'bells and whistles' viewers can expect

CBS isn't shying away from hyping its upcoming Super Bowl telecast as one of the biggest of all time. During its presentation at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour, CBS Sports referred to Super Bowl 50—which it airs on Feb. 7—as "the game America will never forget" in a sizzle reel.

"I really think the next time the Super Bowl will be this big will be Super Bowl 100," said Sean McManus, chairman, CBS Sports, who quipped, "Our promo campaign for that will actually start next week!"

CBS has been preparing for Super Bowl 50 since "five days after Super Bowl XLIX," when CBS Corp. president and CEO Les Moonves hosted a companywide meeting involving all departments from programming to interactive to research to sales. Eleven months later, McManus said, "We are set from every single aspect to present what I think will be the best presentation of the Super Bowl in its history." 

"There has never been a promotional campaign as broad ranging and as large as the promotional campaign behind Super Bowl 50," said McManus. On the Monday through Friday of Super Bowl week, CBS will be doing live inserts at 8 p.m. to update viewers on that night's Super Bowl activities. "Wherever the biggest event is going on around the Super Bowl, we will be there live for one minute," said McManus.

On Super Bowl Sunday, the network will broadcast seven hours of pregame programming, featuring four different sets: one on Market Street in downtown San Francisco and three at Levi's Stadium (outside, on the field and the host set on a concourse overlooking the field).

Among the "bells and whistles" CBS is highlighting during the game is Eyevision 360, a replay system featuring 36 cameras strung around the stadium's upper deck, which allows the team to freeze replays, rotate around a play and then continue to let the action play out. CBS tested out the technology during a few regular-season games, and McManus said, "It looks remarkable."

In another Super Bowl first, CBS will outfit eight pylons with 16 cameras and microphones to film the goal lines and sidelines during the game. It provides "an unbelievable ground-level view," said McManus of the cameras, which were deployed Monday night during college football's national championship game.

Super Bowl week will also see the launch of CBS Sports' new logo, which is changing for the first time in 35 years, and a new on-air graphics package for CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network. "The look of CBS Sports during Super Bowl week will be very, very different than it is right now," McManus said.

McManus also said his network is still waiting to hear whether it will get the Thursday Night Football package in the fall. In December, the NFL asked for bids that addressed "how we would treat Thursday Night Football" from a financial, production and promotional standpoint. The league is also considering splitting the package up among several networks.

"They did ask us to express our interest in both an exclusive package for eight weeks on CBS and a split package where the networks would share the first eight weeks of the season," McManus said. "We still haven't heard anything back yet; they're still looking at the proposals."

While CBS "would like to renew" its Thursday-night deal, McManus said, "Quite frankly, we are in a wait-and-see period right now." Ultimately, the NFL will decide "what's best for their effort to continue to establish Thursday night as an important NFL viewing destination."

McManus also downplayed the recent interest in the NFL's foray into exclusive streaming broadcasts of its London games. "We look at it as a complementary platform for our broadcasts," he said. "I don't think there's a scenario where a significant amount of NFL programming is streamed as opposed to being on broadcast television or cable television. The NFL has always been very forward thinking in terms of how it disseminates its programming."

Noting that even streaming games are broadcast on TV in their home markets, McManus said, "The truth of the matter is that the largest audiences are generated Sunday afternoons, Monday nights and Sunday nights. And I think that's going to remain true for many years to come."

• For more Super Bowl 50 news, check out Adweek's Super Bowl Ad Tracker, an up-to-date list of the brands running Super Bowl spots and the agencies involved in creating them.

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