Tuesday, 22 February 2011 15:49

NFL: Super Bowl Breaks TV Record But Lockout Looms

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According to Nielsen, 111 million people tuned in to Fox to watch the Super Bowl, making it the most watched TV program in U.S. history. That figure shattered the previous high of 106.5 million set by last year's Super Bowl on CBSi in which the Saints beat the Colts.

This marks the second year in a row that the Super Bowl has surpassed 100 million viewers. The only other program to reach that milestone was the 1983 series finale of the CBS comedy "MASH," which had an audience of 106 million. Fox, a network that this fall will mark the 25th anniversary of the launch of its first show, now owns a record for the most watched TV night in the history of television.

On the surface, a match between the Steelers and the Packers -- teams from smaller markets -- would not seem like record-setting material. However, both teams are storied franchises with fan bases that reach far beyond their hometowns.

For the NFL, this is the sixth straight year the Super Bowl has topped 90 million viewers and the fourth year in a row that the game has beaten its record for viewers. Ratings soared for the NFL all season behind the continued growth of fantasy football and savvy marketing efforts to reach women and kids. The gambling element should not be discounted either. Bettors wage on everything from the outcome of the game to the length of the national anthem.

However, there is a dark cloud on the horizon. The NFL is at odds with its players over a new labor pact. The current collective bargaining agreement expires on March 3 and the sides remain far apart on several key issues, including money and the length of the season.

The NFL, which is already collecting about $4 billion in TV license fees from Fox, CBS, NBC, satellite broadcaster DirecTV and its own NFL Network, wants to refigure the revenue split between the league and players. It also wants to extend the regular season to 18 games, which the players are opposed to because of the toll two extra games will make on their health.

The agreement expires on March 3, and an accord before then seems unlikely, which would lead to the NFL owners locking out players. If a new deal is not reached before the fall, the NFL could be looking at its first season disrupted by labor unrest since 1987.

This year's Super Bowl may have set a record, but the day was not glitch-free, First, about 400 fans with tickets ended up not getting seats at the game because the sections they were supposed to sit in were declared unsafe.  Although big refunds were offered and hasty accommodations made, it was a big blunder for the league and Jerry Jones, owner of Cowboys, whose stadium was host of the game.

Then Christinas Aguilera botched the lyrics to the national anthem, and the halftime show featuring the Black Eyed Peas had technical issues as well.

On the field though, the fans seemed to get their money's worth. While the Packers jumped out to a 21-3 lead in the second quarter, the Steelers fought back and made a game of it until folding in the final minutes.

Louisiana Sports

PRIOR to the start of NBA All-Star activities on Saturday, Commissioner David Stern was available to the media for his annual midterm state of the union. The Hornets were the first topic of interest. "Are you still confident about the team's future in New Orleans?" Stern answered yes and when if asked he would like to expand, he said, "no." Stern went on to say the difference between New Orleans and that of the Seattle Sonics"  "The arena was not adequate in Seattle. And in New Orleans, the arena was recently built and is adequate. And so this was a city -- and New Orleans has a special, I'd say place, given the devastation of Katrina and the difficulties there." Hornets GM Dell Dermps said the Hornets would like to trade for a backup center and a small forward. The Hornets are $5 million under the luxury tax and will go over that only if they acquire a "home run hitter". Translate: Carmelo Anthony. Trade rumors continue about Chris Paul, but it's unlikely the All-Star will be traded while the NBA is running the team...

Chris Paul played 28 minutes  scored 10 points with seven assists and three turnovers in Sunday's NBA All-Star game in Los Angeles.Paul's ball handling was dazzling at times and he orchestrated many of the West's 53 fast break points. He tied for a team high with seven assists, but his shots weren't falling much.  CP3 frequently wowed the crowd with his penetration and dishing...Former Grambling and NFL quarterback Doug Wiliiams was honored along with 10 other players and coaches from historically  black colleges in a gala ceremony in Atlanta over the weekend. The former Grambling coach was joined by Mel Blount (Southern), Lem Barney (Jackson State), Bob Hayes (Florida A&M) and Art Shell (Maryland Eastern Shore) .A year ago, former Grambling coach Eddie Robinson was voted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame....

A stellar one-hit effort from freshman Kurt McCune and a pair of three-run homers by Mike Mahtook fueled the No. 15 LSU baseball team past Wake Forest 9-1 to complete the series sweep  past Wake Forest on Sunday at Baton Rouge. The Tigers will take  on UNO on Tuesday at home with the first pitch slated  for 6:30 p.m. Junior righthander Tyler Jones will start for the Tigers. '"Over-all, I was very pleased with the way we played this weekend," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "It was a good way to start the season.  Kurt McCune was exceptional today. The pitching throughout the weekend was very effective and it appears this start has a lot of depth that we hope to utilize as the season progresses."

by Ed Staton

Buy your LSU/Saints jerseys at LouisianaSportsTalk.com

Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography.  


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