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CBS Sports is Set for Super Bowl LVIII

CBS is set to present its 22nd Super Bowl broadcast, the most among any network, and is coming off one of its strongest NFL on CBS seasons.

Derek Futterman

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Super Bowl LVIII CBS Sports
(Illustration) Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson - Courtesy: Mary Kouw, CBS | Sean McManus - Courtesy: Mary Kouw, CBS | David Berson - Courtesy: Michele Crowe, CBS

CBS Sports is preparing to broadcast Super Bowl LVIII next Sunday, Feb. 11 from Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nev., marking the first time the locale will host the championship matchup. The event will feature award-winning singer Usher performing in the Super Bowl Halftime Show, along with the festivities surrounding the final contest of the NFL season.

CBS will present its 22nd Super Bowl broadcast, the most among any network, and is coming off one of its strongest NFL on CBS seasons. CBS Sports recently attained the most-watched AFC Championship Game ever with an average of 55.473 million viewers, also marking the most-watched non-Super Bowl program on CBS since the 1994 Winter Olympics in prime time.

Paramount Global will leverage various properties from across its portfolio for the matchup, including CBS News, syndicated programming and Paramount+. The network is preparing to broadcast programming from the Bellagio Hotel throughout the week with the backdrop of their iconic fountains. CBS Sports Network and CBS Sports HQ will be on-site as well, providing sports fans with wall-to-wall coverage ahead of the Super Bowl.

On the day of the game, the company will present the traditional broadcast on CBS Sports along with an alternate-style game on Nickelodeon, both of which will be streaming live on Paramount+. The advertising inventory for both games is sold out, according to CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus.

“From a business standpoint, it’s a good time to be at Paramount Global and CBS Sports,” McManus said, “and we couldn’t be more excited about the matchup also with the Super Bowl tradition and legacy that San Francisco has, and Kansas City with someone who really has become the face of the NFL – Patrick Mahomes. We’re pumped up [and] we’re excited.”

McManus, who was an integral part of bringing the NFL back to CBS, is retiring from his role in April after leading the sports division of the company for 27 years. David Berson will be the new leader of CBS Sports, serving in the role of president and chief executive officer. McManus regards the team at CBS Sports as the best in the business, and he is looking forward to its broadcast of the Super Bowl.

“An unbelievably exciting, close game and a universally-accepted terrific production by CBS Sports. That’s all I’m asking for,” McManus said. “If we get those two things, I will consider my last Super Bowl as chairman of CBS Sports to be a resounding success.”

Play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz is hoping that he and the CBS Sports team can produce the best show with the highest rating ever in McManus’ final game. In broadcasting his ninth Super Bowl overall and seventh in the play-by-play role, he is looking forward to calling the game in front of a capacity crowd. During the last occurrence CBS Sports had the Super Bowl in 2021, capacity was limited because of health and safety restrictions related to the global pandemic. There will also be more opportunities to attend practices and speak with the players before the contest, something that was hampered for Super Bowl LV.

“The process is so much fun trying to get ready for one of these games,” Nantz said. “We didn’t have that in Tampa in 55, so in some ways, it’s been five years since we did a normal Super Bowl.”

Nantz understands the success CBS Sports has had in the regular season, and he aspires to help cap it all off with a massive flourish in the season’s final game. Broadcasting the game from Las Vegas, a city that did not have an NFL team until 2020 with the arrival of the Las Vegas Raiders, CBS Sports will focus on the storylines taking place on the field. At the same time, the network will also present scenes from throughout the city to convey the magnitude of the event itself.

“The flavor of Las Vegas and the fact that it’s a first – it is a big deal,” Nantz said. “I couldn’t believe when Vegas got the Super Bowl that it landed on our watch, and I’ve known now [for] whatever it’s been – I guess that it was four years – that this was coming: the biggest event in the history of Las Vegas. That says a lot, and that’s not hyperbole. For a city that’s done nothing but host massively important and showcase events, there’s nothing that could compare to this one.”

Nantz will be joined by color commentator and former quarterback Tony Romo, who is calling his third Super Bowl as a member of CBS Sports. Romo is in his sixth year with the company as part of a reported 10-year contract, and he is hoping to have an exciting contest to announce alongside his colleagues.

Romo himself, however, has been subject to criticism throughout the year, and the viability of the lead NFL on CBS broadcast booth has been put into question. Understanding that it is along the normal career arc, he is remaining focused on the task at hand and hears from viewers how much they love the broadcast.

“You’re going to have the negative aspects that come in from time to time, but those things are normal,” Romo said. “That’s what’s supposed to happen.”

Aside from the matchup and grandeur of Las Vegas, the potential presence of award-winning singer and songwriter Taylor Swift could also play into the broadcast depending on the flow of the game. Swift has been dating Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce since the summer and attended 12 Chiefs games throughout the regular season and postseason. Romo revealed that he has been referring to Swift as Kelce’s wife as a joke, explaining that something similar happened to him while he was playing. McManus averred his sentiment that the network has been able to balance displaying Swift on the broadcasts and is doing so in an organic manner.

“She’s part of the overall ambience of these NFL games, and she will be assuming she’s there at the Super Bowl also,” McManus said. “I’m sure there are people, especially a lot of younger fans, who wish we would show her a lot more, and maybe some of the older fans would like us to show her less, but I think we’ve done it in a way that has not been intrusive at all, and I give Mike [Arnold] and Harold [Bryant] and Jim [Rikhoff] for finding that sweet spot, which I think we’ve done really, really well.”

Sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson will be on the Super Bowl broadcast as well, extrapolating storylines and bringing consumers updates throughout the contest. She is excited to be back on the sidelines and conducting interviews with the winning team after the game. The last time Wolfson was on the sidelines for the game, she vividly remembers having to stand five to six feet away from then-Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady due to the rules in place.

“It’ll be nice to finally have normalcy again for this Super Bowl,” Wolfson said, “and I’m sure all lights will be bright as soon as that game ends.”

Ahead of the Super Bowl broadcast, CBS Sports will present various studio-based programs from Las Vegas, including NFL Monday QB, Time to Schein, That Other Pregame Show and The NFL Today. Moreover, the network will air a one-hour original special – You Are Looking Live! The Show That Changed Sports Television Forever – detailing the story of The NFL Today.

“Obviously we have the game, but our coverage is far beyond that,” Berson said. “We have well over 115 hours throughout the week across our various sports platforms, including CBS Sports Network, our 24-hour cable home, and CBS Sports HQ, our FAST channel.”

CBS Sports will begin its Super Bowl coverage on Sunday, Feb. 11 with Nickelodeon NFL SlimeTime at 11:30 a.m. EST followed by NFL Films’ Road to the Super Bowl at noon. At 1 p.m., You Are Looking Live! takes the air before The NFL Today commences its coverage from 2 to 6 p.m. The program will include host James Brown, analysts Nate Burleson, Bill Cowher, Boomer Esiason, Phil Simms and JJ Watt, and lead NFL insider Jonathan Jones. NFL on CBS game analysts Matt Ryan and Charles Davis will also be on the air for the program to provide their insights and expertise. 

At 6 p.m. EST, the Super Bowl on CBS Kickoff Show will take the air before the game broadcast for Super Bowl LVIII commences at 6:30 p.m. EST, all of which is available to watch on CBS or stream on Paramount+. The Nickelodeon alternate broadcast will begin in concert with the primary Super Bowl LVIII broadcast, which can be viewed on its linear channel or streamed on Paramount+ as well.

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NESN Bruins Announcer Jack Edwards Addresses Speech Slowdown Issues For First Time

“The way I see it, two things work to my disadvantage. The game is speeding up all the time. And I’m slowing down all the time.”

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Jack Edwards of NESN
Courtesy: NESN

Longtime NESN Boston Bruins play-by-play man Jack Edwards recently spoke to The Boston Globe and addressed an ongoing health issue. While Edwards says he’s been cleared of cancer, dementia, and a stroke, he is still slurring and slowing his words at an increasing rate. Edwards credits it to two primary factors:

“The way I see it, two things work to my disadvantage,” Edwards said to the Boston Globe. “The game is speeding up all the time. And I’m slowing down all the time.”

According to The Globe, this is the first time Edwards has spoken about his struggles publicly, mostly because of the mysticism surrounding his condition. It’s not related to any sort of accident, or serious disease or condition — and doctors have no formal diagnosis or medical term to give him. Edwards says he is in “robust” health and receives “superior” grades on intellect tests. But Edwards still struggles with his speech slowing down.

“It doesn’t fit in any slot,” Edwards said. “There have been a couple of guesses, but they haven’t made a definitive diagnosis and they’ve been working on me for a year and a half. It’s very frustrating, as you can imagine, for me to have this slowdown in my speech.”

At the behest of his daughter, Edwards began speech therapy following his struggle with reading the Declaration of Independence on July 4, something Edwards and his father have done each year. “The Declaration of Independence has quite a few unusual words,” says Edwards, “and a year and a half ago, I couldn’t process the words, and it’s not like it was unfamiliar. I’ve read it for, like, 20 years, 25 years.”

Edwards goes through 40-60 minutes of what he calls “exhaustive and exhausting” speech therapy exercises on non-game days but still finds time to freshen up on game days for about 10 minutes. He’s appreciative of the work his speech therapy team does with him every day.

“I thank all the people who are working on this problem and helping me, and they seem to feel and I anecdotally feel that I’m making incremental progress,” he says. “The brain is a funny thing, especially mine. It is still possible to train a 66½-year-old brain to do the same things you used to do in a different way. And that’s what we’re working on through speech therapy.”

While Edwards is optimistic, he is a realist and is treating his speech issues as an in-season injury. If it gets better, he will continue to serve as the Bruins’ play-by-play voice. If not, he offers the stark reality of his situation. “If I, or NESN, decide that I’m hurting the product or costing the fans an enjoyable experience, I will say goodbye. But we haven’t had any discussions like that.”

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Nielsen Custom Survey: Super Bowl LVIII Reached Estimated 210 Million Viewers

“The Super Bowl is singular across the television and media landscape not only in its unparalleled viewership, but because it is largely watched in group settings.”

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NFL Logo at Media Row 2023

A custom survey commissioned by the National Football League to Nielsen Media Research discovered that Super Bowl LVIII reached an estimated 210 million viewers, representing nearly two-thirds of Americans across CBS, Paramount+, Nickelodeon and Univision, along with CBS Sports, Univision and NFL digital properties, including NFL+. This represents a 4% increase compared to last year’s game figure of 202 million unique viewers reported through the Nielsen syndicated ratings service that measures viewers who tuned in for at least one minute of the game.

This survey, which was ordered to add to Nielsen’s audience measurement data and provide more insight into the total audience estimate for the league’s championship game, discovered that Super Bowl LVIII had an average minute audience of approximately 143 million viewers.

The survey encompassed 5,267 households and reviewed the size of viewership groups, location notwithstanding, and if they are larger than what is currently measured by Nielsen in the present day. NORC at the University of Chicago conducted the survey utilizing the AmeriSpeak panel.

“The Super Bowl is singular across the television and media landscape not only in its unparalleled viewership, but because it is largely watched in group settings,” Paul Ballew, chief data and analytics officer of the National Football League, said in a statement. “With that in mind, additional measurement is needed in order to have a complete picture of the total viewership of this special event and the results of this custom survey with Nielsen illustrate the true magnitude of the Super Bowl.”

Nielsen Media Research found that Super Bowl LVIII averaged nearly 124 million viewers across the aforementioned properties, rendering it the most-watched Super Bowl matchup of all time. The research firm is in the midst of expanding its national out-of-home panel as well which will bring its coverage to 100% of the portable people meter (PPM) technology footprint. Nielsen data recently demonstrated that NFL games encapsulated 93 of the top 100 most-watched television broadcasts throughout 2023.

“Nielsen understands the nuance of the Super Bowl, which historically has drawn the largest television audience of the year and includes unparalleled viewership from large groups of people, both in and out of homes,” Deirdre Thomas, chief product officer at Nielsen, said in a statement. “We are proud that the NFL partners with Nielsen to provide the best possible measurement of their programming, for the Super Bowl and throughout the season.

“Additionally, we’re excited about the expansion of our National Out-Of-Home panel, which we announced earlier this month, because it will enhance our ability to provide the most complete picture of the audience, especially for major events like the Super Bowl.”

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Report: Luke Donald To Join NBC Golf Coverage for Two Events

According to Sports Business Journal, Donald will join NBC’s coverage of the Cognizant Classic and the Arnold Palmer Invitational alongside Dan Hicks.

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Luke Donald after a golf swing
Courtesy: Wikipedia

NBC continues its quest to find a full-time golf analyst and will allegedly next try out former European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald to fill the role. According to Sports Business Journal, NBC is expected to announce the move this weekend.

SBJ reports Donald will join NBC’s coverage of the Cognizant Classic and the Arnold Palmer Invitational alongside Dan Hicks. The sometimes-active pro’s stock reportedly rose within NBC following Europe’s massive win over the U.S. in the Ryder Cup last September. He also brings star power as a former world number one and PGA Tour Player of the Year.

Donald is the latest name to join NBC as a golf analyst since the network laid off Paul Azinger in November. Donald will directly succeed Jim “Bones” Mackay, who will call the Mexico Open this weekend, who himself succeeded former Tour pros like Brandel Chamblee and Kevin Kisner. At one point, Geoff Ogilvy was rumored to be an option for NBC, but with each passing analyst, that thought seems more likely to remain in the rumor mill.

The Cognizant Classic takes place from Feb. 29–Mar. 3 at the PGA National Members Club in Palm Springs Beach, FL. The Arnold Palmer Invitational will air Mar. 7–10, 2024 at Palmer’s Bay Hill Golf Course in Arnold, MD.

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