CBS is a team that's just happy to be here

It's been nine years since network last did big game

January 24, 2001|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

TAMPA, Fla. - Though CBS' presence here is less surprising than that of the New York Giants or the Ravens, "we might be the most excited team to be here," said CBS' Jim Nantz, host of the pre-game show.

It has been nine years since the so-called tiffany network carried the Super Bowl. CBS had lost the NFL, regained it and waited its turn behind ABC and Fox.

"Every decision we've made has been geared toward this coming Sunday," said Sean McManus, president of CBS Sports. "It's not just the biggest day in American sports - it's the biggest day in American television."

If the network's on-air talent and producers were skittish about a game with two East Coast teams with no offense, they weren't showing it yesterday.

McManus said all the advertising spots had been sold - at a reported $2.2 million per 30-second ad - and the network's executives are anticipating $150 million in Super Bowl-related revenue.

Plus, he predicted that the ratings would remain in the high 40s as long as the game is a good one.

"Last year, we had two small-market teams, neither with great Super Bowl traditions, and it had a 43.3 rating," McManus said. "Why was that? The game was close in the fourth quarter."

This year's TV coverage will start at noon, two hours earlier than usual. The network's pre-game show begins at 3 p.m. It will feature Armen Keteyian's behind-the-scenes look at the 2000 season through the eyes of four NFL players, but may be most notable for Lesley Visser's interview with Ravens star Ray Lewis.

CBS' wording on the subject matter of the interview - "talking about his role as the leader of the Ravens" - is either refreshing or ominous, depending on the point of view.

The game's broadcast will feature a three-dimensional replay device called EyeVision, which allows viewers to see a play from pretty much every angle.

The opportunity to be host of this year's big game represents a triumphant return for CBS.

"It was depressing. I felt bad about leaving," said game announcer Greg Gumbel, who went to NBC and worked two Super Bowls there. "It was a tremendous loss. And there was dancing in the hallways when they got it back."

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