We’re less than a day removed from the highlight of the sporting cultural calendar – the Superbowl.
The Kansas City Chiefs managed a late comeback to stall the San Francisco 49ers and take home the spoils, 50 years on from their first ever victory.
There’s nothing quite like the Superbowl every year – a night that meshes high stakes athleticism with pop-star performances and celebrity endorsements. It’s unique, thrilling and bizarre all in the same vein.
I haven’t been shy about my recent dabbling into the world of the NFL. After spending summers in America in 2016 and 2017, following the self-proclaimed ‘national sport’ was almost a necessity. Whether it’s the shortened season, the heroic catches, the tragic fumbles or the monsterous sacks – football has it’s way of standing out from the pack.
I had watched previous Superbowls in friends houses or at home on Sky Sports in the past. It’s great to see European outlets cover the event, but the feeling is far from authentic.
It wasn’t until I managed to find an.. opening.. on the interweb to American television – that I saw first hand what American viewers are used to seeing every year.
So, here are my takeaways from my first full-viewing of the Superbowl on American television.
The Network Coverage
What first perplexed me was who had the broadcasting rights to show the biggest sporting event on planet Earth?! I was watching the game on a Fox broadcast – but on later study I found out that the big networks alternate every year. This involves Fox (who had the rights this year, despite my uncertainty), CBS and NBC.
As what you might expect from the home broadcasting bias, some of the adverts were for shows exclusively on Fox. The main two being promoted involved some show about building Lego (Lego Masters after googling, apparently) hosted by Will Arnett of Arrested Development fame (great man), and the Masked Singer which was some weird mash-up of The Voice and The Muppets – gas.
The broadcast flowed quite nicely. Between the intriguing adverts, the actual football and the half-time show – Fox did a great job of keeping the viewer engaged throughout. They had a panel just off the pitch to give 1 or 2 pointers at certain points through the game – it felt like there were 5/6 people on this panel which was a bit unnecessary. But overall – well played Fox.
Network rating – 9/10
The Actual Football
I watched the first half with two others, and we were all surprised at how quickly the first-half went by. When it came to the fourth quarter, however, the 3am Irish time caught up to me and my attention was sparing. Nonetheless, I haven’t watched the game back, so this will be a relatively foggy recap on the football side of things.
The 49ers just looked a cut above Kansas in the first half – despite the game being tied at half-time. Jimmy Garroppolo had thrown an interception – but looked the more complete of the two quarterbacks. Every fan should have had a gut feeling that we were yet to see Patrick Mahomes turn it on. However, the 49ers pass rush were doing a good job of containing him.
The comeback in the end wasn’t as dramatic as the Patriots coming back from 28-3 but it was impressive to watch. Damien Williams second touchdown really poured salt in the wounds of 49ers hopefuls – who probably knew the game was almost over once the Chiefs regained the lead. The momentum swing from the Chiefs late in the game seemed a bit predictable, as the 49ers were running out of steam. It was a drawn out comeback, but a special one for Patrick Mahomes and Chiefs fans alike.
Football rating – 6/10
The Half-time Show
I didn’t conduct that much research before the game on the half-time show and what we were to expect from J-Lo, Shakira and the lads. I expected dramatic sequences, lots of dancers, long-drawn out high notes and maybe a questionable outfit or two. Oh, and a recognisable musician coming onto the stage out of nowhere to woo the audience.
What actually presented itself – was two true pop-stars banging out catchy tune after catchy tune with a fun backdrop. It was great. A point possibly taken away for the lack of integration between the two singers as it very much felt like two completely solo performances, despite being billed as a WCW/WWE partnership pre-game.
I was actually surprised at how many bangers J-Lo had in her arsenal, all in different eras. From the early Jenny on the block stick to the Pitbull collabs of late – a great showing from the ageless wonder woman. What didn’t surprise me was Shakira’s Spanish language seminar and more cultured sounding set. But overall, a good mesh of two latino superstars in Miami, who pulled no punches and exceeded all expectations.
Half-time show rating – 8/10
Here we go. It’s the big one. What once was a simple game of football has slowly turned into a marketing driven platform for multi-million dollar corporations. I had watched entire montages of previous Superbowl adverts – from the tear-jerking puppy dogs to the retired athletes flogging beer and the likes. The adverts during the Superbowl are over the top, over zealous – but very much a drawing point.
Looking back on Sunday’s adverts – there were none that had me googling them a day later. Possibly a safer year for advertisements? We had a good mix in fairness. The two Trump hype clips were a bit unnecessary – screaming of “I can afford these and no other candidate can.” In terms of animal appearances – a nice viewing of a golden retriever who had heart surgery from a veterinary hospital. I’d question the financial team in coming up with the millions for that however.
We had celebrity appearances but they seemed a bit random. Post Malone and Bud Light had a nice showing. A really random Hyundai advert had Captain America and Jim from the Office putting on fake New York accents. Martin Scorsese and Jonah Hill appeared in a Coca Cola advert that was as unfunny as it was uneventful. There was a fair share of funny adverts, but it was overshadowed by the big corporates like Google trying too hard to get a tear or two. It was pretty standard.
Adverts rating – 7/10
The Viewing in Ireland drawbacks
This might not be entirely relevant to the article title, as the majority watching American TV were not situated in Ireland last night. However, I feel compelled to rate the obstacles that were faced in sitting down to view the Superbowl. These range from the late broadcasting time, to the coping mechanism for cringeworthy American content, to getting the private jokes or advert humour.
The time difference was pretty much a breeze. I think it was roughly 3:30am Irish time when the game finished, and I hung around for 20 minutes after to see who was crowned Superbowl MVP and the likes. I was helped by being up til 7am the night before at a party but that’s neither here nor there. In terms of coping with cringeworthy American content, that was the toughest. There were more than a few moments were I wanted to spew out some of my water or make fake sick attempts after watching a fifth advert honoring the armed forces.
The commentary was very good, in fact, as I was surprised how little they veered away from actual game coverage. Sometimes Amercian TV networks love to show the “wife cam” or tell a story from a pre-game interview of some player doing it for his grandma etc. They held back form that and it added to the intrigue of the game. The stream never cut out, either, for four entire hours. So fair play to Irish broadband for keeping things going too.
Overcoming being Irish obstacles – 8/10
Final rating – 8/10
There we have it. That’s an Irishman’s review of watching the Superbowl on American TV. Hopefully someday I’ll get to watch it stateside, on an all-expense paid trip. But then again, if I was in America I’d probably be at a Superbowl party and not be paying as much attention. Definitely not enough to write an article about it.