Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers should be ratings gold for Fox
Anyone who thinks that a Super Bowl featuring the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers won't deliver the numbers that the New York Jets and Chicago Bears would because they are from larger markets is sadly mistaken.
Although it's true that the Jets and Bears hail from bigger cities, the Packers and Steelers have huge followings, and both have been on national television far more than just about every other team in the league over the last five years. Fox, which has this year's game, has nothing to worry about.
The Super Bowl is not like Major League Baseball or the National Basketball Assn. finals. Fans come regardless of who is playing. The game has become America's unofficial holiday.
Last year's battle between the small-market New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts on CBS drew more than 106 million viewers. The year before that, the match-up between the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers on NBC had 98.7 million viewers. That audience topped the New York Giants' stunning upset over the New England Patriots in the 2008 game on Fox, and both those teams are from big cities.
The last five Super Bowls have all had audiences north of 90 million. The Steelers and Packers are institutions with lots of big-name players. Fox won't have to do a lot of promoting to get people pumped for the Feb. 6 showdown.
Indeed, NBC Sports chief Dick Ebersol woke up a little envious of Fox.
"This is going to be a monster," Ebersol said in an interview, noting that both the Packers and Steelers are "iconic brands."
"I would give my eye teeth to be [Fox Sports Chairman] David Hill this morning," Ebersol cracked.
-- Joe Flint
Photo: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger keeps his eye on the ball in the Jan. 23, 2011, game. Credit: Doug Kapustin / MCT