Al Michaels has a long history with the Super Bowl.
The NBC sportscaster has been in the broadcast booth for eight past showdowns between the AFC and NFC, dating back to Super Bowl XXII in San Diego. He will join Chris Collinsworth in the broadcast booth on Sunday, Feb. 1, when Super Bowl XLIX is played in Arizona.
His history goes beyond broadcasting. Michaels was in the stands when the first Super Bowl was played at the Coliseum in Los Angeles in 1967.
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“I was there with my brother. We were kids. We had great seats because there were about 35,000 empty seats,” Michaels says. “Nobody had any idea that this would evolve into what it’s become.”
The Super Bowl has become destination television. It is the highest rated program of the year, which is why NBC will devote an entire day of programming to the event Sunday.
Last year’s blowout of the Denver Broncos by the Seattle Seahawks was seen by an average of 112.2 million viewers, the most for any program in TV history.
“It’s an undeclared national holiday. There’s no doubt about that. I mean, what else is somebody going to do on that particular day?,” Michaels says.
The Super Bowl is not only a monster because of the game, it’s the only program where viewers also have a huge interest in the commercials. Advertisers are paying an average of $4.5 million for a 30-second commercial in this year’s broadcast.
Frank Gaudelli, the lead producer of NBC’s NFL broadcasts, looks at the commercials as a bonus to the telecast.
“I think the advertising really just kind of helps keep people glued to the television set. People aren’t leaving during commercial or changing during commercial. So really the entire focus is on you. So I look at that as a benefit,” Gaudelli says.
Many viewers who watch the game are different than the regular viewers of NFL football. NBC averaged a little more than 21 million viewers for its Sunday night NFL telecasts. That means there will be more people watching who either don’t watch football during the year or only on a few occasions.
Gaudelli’s team kept that in mind when putting together the telecast.
“You want to have things that are relevant to all parts of the audience. You’re not going to speak down to the football fans because they’ve been with us all year long, but you might want to dive into stories a little bit more and bring out some of the personalities,” Gaudelli says. “And we try to do that in a lot of different ways and a lot of different areas. To me, the biggest thing about Super Bowl Sunday is you have people watching football maybe for the only time this year.”