If you watch one of the NBCUniversal television networks this
week, it will be difficult to not know about the opening of the
National Football League’s new season.
The ”Today” show, the Weather Channel, Telemundo and E!
Entertainment are all reporting live this week from Green Bay,
where NBC is televising Thursday’s opening game between the Packers
and the New Orleans Saints.
Pro football is among the most dependable ratings-grabbers for
broadcast television as networks otherwise leak viewers. NBC and
the NFL have recently tried to make the season opener a big event.
Last year’s opener between New Orleans and the Minnesota Vikings
was seen by 27.5 million people, the most-watched NFL regular
season game in 14 years, according to the Nielsen ratings company.
This year’s game pits the last two Super Bowl winners against each
NBCUniversal owner Comcast Corp., based in Philadelphia, is
using full-force corporate synergy to drum up interest for the
Thursday’s game is preceded by a one-hour entertainment show,
yet NBC’s telecast of that event was unclear Tuesday as it
conflicts with President Barack Obama’s jobs speech.
NBC’s ”Today” show is sending Matt Lauer and Al Roker to Green
Bay this week. The network promised interviews with NBC Sports
commentators and features with Packers and Saints players. The
morning news ratings leader also will encourage viewers to wear NFL
jerseys to work or school on Friday.
Using news programs to promote network events no longer seems
uncommon, since ”Today” routinely travels to Olympics sites for
special coverage. Fox News Channel this summer stationed Shepard
Smith in Arizona, where the Fox network covered the Major League
baseball All-Star Game.
The breadth of NBCUniversal’s promotional effort goes beyond the
news programs, however. NBC promised Tuesday that Jay Leno will
include football’s return in monologue jokes and fellow late-night
comic Jimmy Fallon will do football-related comic sketches on his
show. ”America’s Got Talent,” the summer’s most popular
prime-time show, will talk about the upcoming football season.
The Weather Channel’s Roker and Stephanie Abrams will report
live from Green Bay on Thursday, as will CNBC’s sports business
reporter, Darren Rovell. Telemundo’s late-night show ”Titulares y
Mas” originates from Green Bay opening night. ”Access Hollywood”
will have a profile of singer Faith Hill recording the NBC Sunday
night football show’s theme song, ”Waiting All Day for Sunday
Night,” a retooling of Joan Jett’s ”I Hate Myself For Loving
Many local NBC stations also will send reporters to Green Bay,
and content will be fed to all 235 stations and Comcast regional
sports networks. Local on-air personnel across the country will be
encouraged to wear NFL jerseys to work, NBC said.
The promotion even extends to the Universal theme park in
Florida, where employees will be instructed to wear NFL hats and
NBC’s Sunday night NFL telecasts, which begin this Sunday with
the New York Jets hosting the Dallas Cowboys, are particularly
important to the network’s bottom line with other prime-time fare
yet to take off.
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