When the Super Bowl comes around every February, it draws outrageous and over-the-top commercials from dozens of blue-chip advertisers. But the sponsors aren’t the only ones taking part in the pitch.
TV networks also have something to sell. In Fox’s case, it’s an entire lineup of programming, along with some bold launches coming in later weeks. As such, look for Fox during Super Bowl night to call attention to its coming miniseries “24: Live Another Day,” set to debut May 5; “Cosmos,” the science miniseries that explores the universe; “American Idol”; as well as current efforts including “The Following,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “New Girl,” according to information provided by the network. The last two series are expected to each have an episode air after the end of the game – “New Girl” first and “Nine-Nine” following.
Fox spent much time considering which shows to do unique treatments for and which programs would best be served by using actual footage from the programs, according to Joe Earley, Fox’s chief operating officer, in remarks relayed by a network spokeswoman.
It’s likely the promos – slated to run before and during the gridiron classic – will be of a higher caliber than the norm. Sure, the spots will likely tell viewers when the shows are slated to run. Chances are, however, they’ll have a little something extra. In the case of “24: Live Another Day,” for example, Fox went all out, setting up a special promo shoot in London, the setting for the miniseries, a few days before actual production began on the series itself – meaning the Super Bowl promos for the show will contain the first “24” action filmed since the original series wrapped in 2010.
The “24”effort will consist of a series of ten-second vignettes sprinkled across the evening that will lead to what the network bills as a “show-stopping” 45-second promo. They should capture a lot of attention from the show’s fans, because they will feature the on-screen reunion of the show’s best-known characters, Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer and Mary Lynn Rajskub’s Chloe O’Brian. Fox said the elaborate shoot involved street closures, ballistics, vehicles, pyrotechnics and explosions. The promos will feature a hardened look for the O’Brian character, best remembered as a computer nerd.
The network broadcasting the Super Bowl typically gets four to five minutes’ worth of time to promote its own offerings. When combined with inventory in the halftime show and before and after the game, the minutes can add up – giving some viewers the impression the TV network is running as many ads for itself as it is for makers of soda, chips and cars.
The selection can be telling. The programs a network chooses to pitch during Super Bowl Sunday usually serves as an indication of which shows are higher up on the network’s list of business priorities. Both “Cosmos” and “24” are new efforts in a Fox initiative to devise top-draw programming that may not last as long as a typical broadcast-network series. “24” will take place over 12 episodes while “Cosmos” will last 13. Both series will prove instrumental in helping Fox build viewership over the summer months, a time that is growing more competitive for the broadcasters.
Fox’s efforts to sustain “American Idol” are well-known. The maturing show, still one of TV’s most-watched programs, has shown signs of age and ratings woes in its last few seasons. To draw attention to it during the Super Bowl, Fox intends to run promos of various lengths, including one that it bills as “dramatic.” Black-and-white footage will be used in some instances. Fox will air a series of 20-second promos to burnish “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” that it promises are “visually stunning.”
Meantime, Earley said Fox decided to use show footage to talk up “New Girl,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “The Following,” believing it best to use the shows own strength to appeal to viewers.
Will Fox’s efforts trump those from the past? CBS has gained noticed for its efforts featuring David Letterman during its 2007, 2010, and 2013 Super Bowl broadcasts, showing surprise encounters between the latenight host and Oprah Winfrey, or with Jay Leno right after the “Tonight” host was scarred by NBC’s infamous decision regarding Conan O’Brien. s. In 2011, Fox ran a promo for “House” that parodied a famous Coke ad featuring Mean Joe Greene and a young football fun that become a heartstring-tugging classic.