The United States of America advanced a sporting event into worldwide media frenzy. On January 26, 2003 individuals worldwide received information and entertainment for Super Bowl XXXVII. The setting was Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego; the teams playing are insignificant to the true capital venture of the game. From Super Bowl I to Super Bowl XXXVII the actual victor of the game has been lost in the sea of media that surrounds the venue.
Super Bowl XXXVII saw every form of mediation used to attract, inform, advertise and entertain people throughout the world. The game can be separated into three categories, the pre-game, actual competition and post-game. The pre-game and post-game are covered by all forms of media, from television, radio, internet, newspaper, magazine, fliers, word-of-mouth and all other imaginable forms of media. These two categories surround the actual game and are produced by agencies that hire credible authors, broadcasters and analysts to narrate. The information provided in the pre-game consist of predictions, along with information surrounding the teams and entertainment during the game, such as, half time shows and advertisements. The post-game media simply recaps the event and in some areas discussing how the audience and the economy will be affected by corporate advertisement that took place during the game. The game is the reason for media hype and publication. During the event media is narrowed to real-time forms of mediation, including television, radio, attendance and Internet. The event itself is portrayed to the largest audience through means of television broadcast.
The American Broadcast Channel had the sole rights to Super Bowl XXXVII broadcast. The American Broadcast Channel (ABC) outbid the big broadcasting companies such as FOX, NBC and CBS to earn these rights from the National Football League. ABC puts on a huge production, with a production crew of over 300 individuals working during the game. The agency reserves the right to view to their audience based on the notion of making profit: by showing game clips, fans, commercials and half-time shows. The large price tag for the venue is derived from the estimated 800 million television viewers worldwide. The audience in the United States alone shows an average of 88.6 million viewers and 136 million total viewers.
With large portions of television viewers watching Super Bowl XXXVII, ABC takes full opportunity to make profit on advertisement. For the event sixty-one commercial advertisement spots during the game lasting 30 seconds had a price tag of $US2-2.2 Million. This does not include the pre-game that starts four hours prior to kickoff and a post-game presentation following the game. It is considered to be the biggest day of the year for football as well as for marketers, spending an average of over $US200 Million on ads before, during and after the game. From Media Life Magazine, “A 1999 study cited in the Journal of Marketing Communications found that 68 percent of Super Bowl viewers say they pay attention to the commercials and, suggesting a high level of recall, more than half say they discuss the ads the following day”. This statistic clearly shows that the American Broadcast Channel is clearly marketing to a demographic audience who is motivated by the advertising more than the actual event. This is why the agency chooses to view a large amount of commercials during the game. ABC has the ability to use unlimited television timeouts when there is complete stoppage in the game in order to fulfill the contracts to advertised commercials. In many cases killing the momentum of the game being played on the field. American Broadcast Channel uncovers motives for broadcasting in what material they choose to be viewed by the audience. The football game is not the main concern for the televised media, it is purely advertising products and services.
With any live event broadcasted on television we as the audience only view what the agency wants. In this case ABC works very hard to sensor or represent only the glamorous and non-controversial issues that surround the event. An editor for PC Magazine writes about interviews with athletes prior to the game, “lots of canned questions with reporters told in advance what not to ask. They assiduously oblige, lest they lose their privileges”. Before the event we see great effort by the ABC to give the audience only the basic questions and stay away from controversial issues that may draw away from commercial advertisements. Evidence is seen in the representation of the missing all-pro center for the Raiders who vanished one-day before the game. The audience had little understanding of why the athlete was not participating in the competition. Dvork writes about the skewed commentary of ABC, “Most obvious was the poor job done by Al "OJ is Innocent" Michaels, who had John Madden right next to him in the broadcast booth, but never once asked the ex-Raider coach what he might know about Robbins”. A showing of how the broadcasting agency wanted to focus the audience on the drama on the field and the material goods running through the commercial instead of an emotional story about an individual. The agency does sensor what is projected to the people, although the visual stimulus viewed by the audience inevitably keeps attention.
Super Bowl XXXVII was the first sporting event to use High Definition television for their entire broadcast. From sound to sight it was crisper and more realistic to enhance the experience for the audience. Tim Cuprisim of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quotes,
“From beads of sweat glistening on Warren Sapp's forehead to blades of grass being stomped on at Qualcomm Park, football has never before been as intimate a viewing experience… the overall broadcast was stunning, especially the sprinkling of high-def ads that were aired in the format with booming CD-quality sound.”
The American Broadcast Channel represented the event to the audience as if the game took place in your living room or pub. The agency for the first time planted microphones on several of the athletes on the field to get the sounds of the game. All the technological extras to entice the audience to stay tuned during the entire event.
The profit-making ploy is covered by dramatic representation of the game. Commentary depicts the event as an emotional war between two well traveled teams. By showing heroic visual clips accompanied by music that inspires the audience. ABC wants people to view the athletes as valiant heroes, an icon every individual strives to become. The audience becomes emotionally attached through representations to these individuals. The American Broadcast Channel has accomplished their goal of ratings and inevitably a large profit from the event.
The biggest event for football occurs year after year. The audience grows with each passing year to view the event and more importantly become amused by the new and intriguing advertisements. All forms of media are used surrounding the game, but television is the main attraction, by use of technology, innovation and entertainment it captures the largest audience.