LOS ANGELES – It isn’t all football and Justin Timberlake at Sunday’s Super Bowl game.
Fred Gaudelli, the executive producer of the 52nd Super Bowl, says NBC will also insert Olympics stories to promote the network’s coverage of the international sporting event just days later.
“We’re going to take advantage of this huge platform on Super Bowl Sunday and whet people’s appetites for the stories, the beautiful scenery of South Korea and get them ready for that total Olympic experience," he says.
Because it’s the first time since 1992 that one network has had both the Olympic Games and the Super Bowl in the same year, it’s a rare opportunity for synergy.
Played at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, the game also will give viewers a sense of the host city, largely because NBC will use drones downtown to record what kind of hoopla is accompanying the event.
Although the Minnesota Vikings didn’t get in the big game (the New England Patriots are going against the Philadelphia Eagles, in case you weren’t keeping score), the home team did inspire viewers.
As a result, play-by-play announcer Al Michaels says, “The Super Bowl sometimes is the easiest game to do because so many of the stories have been told. Everybody knows about the preamble and then you kind of start the game and let the game take you.”
For Michaels and his team, the Super Bowl is an interesting challenge. “You have every big football fan in America (and) you have people who only watch one game a year. You don’t want to talk down to the people who know sports but you also want to bring into the fold the people who don’t watch any football.
“We think of it as the big tent, the big top. We open up the canvas and we say, ‘Come one, come all. Come in and join us and have fun.’”
For Michaels, Super Bowl LII is his 10th. He’s just as much a fan as those at home. “I’m sitting there watching the game and rooting for drama, high drama. I didn’t want overtime drama last year (between the Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons). I wanted that game to still be out there so that we could do it at some point. But, believe me, I was sitting there with my mouth as wide open as everybody else’s in the country as New England made that comeback.”
Broadcast by Fox, the game almost prompted Michaels to text broadcasters Joe Buck and Troy Aikman with his apologies because it initially seemed like a blowout. Now, he says, “we’re rooting for the first-ever triple overtime Super Bowl so they go deep into the night.”
Unlike his peers, Michaels doesn’t like to watch with others. For the conference games leading up to the Super Bowl, he was by himself “with a pad and a recorder,” the doors locked.
To give this year's Super Bowl extra oomph, Gaudelli is going to use 3D virtual players as part of the graphics package. Already, NBC officials have scanned players.
The biggest challenge? “A major snowstorm on Super Bowl Sunday that would make it difficult for people to get to the game,” Gaudelli says. Midwesterners, though, “are pretty hearty. Those types of things that would paralyze other states pretty much goes unfazed in that part of the country. I don’t think the cold weather is going to be that much of a factor in terms of challenging us that much at all.”
For Michaels, a bigger obstacle is halftime performer Justin Timberlake.
In the fall, Timberlake said he wanted to get Michaels to shake his booty (and launched a hashtag to prove it).
“I have an 8-year-old granddaughter who now wants to give Pop Pop lessons,” Michaels says. “I said, ‘Honey, it’s hard to do that with spinal stenosis.’”
If there's a Michaels performance, look for it during overtime, not halftime.