FOX Getting Creative With Pregame Show
Where the NFL's carriers strive for distinction on Super Sunday is with their respective pregame shows.
It's admittedly a daunting prospect since a lot of the potential audience for the show is not the hardcore football fan, but rather, as FOX Sports Media Group Chairman David Hill puts it, a group "sitting around with dip and guac and the odd beverage and cups of coffee chatting and seeing old friends."
In other words, it's not your standard Sunday afternoon football setup. And it's dragged out not over the usual one hour or even ESPN's two, but during a four-hour marathon -- the length of which is dictated not by the merits of worthwhile material, but by the economics of wringing out every conceivable Super Bowl-adjacent advertising space
This year, the responsibility for molding the pregame show into something watchable falls to Scott Ackerson, the coordinating producer of FOX's weekly pregame show.
Ackerson's first order of business is to largely scrap the idea of the extended player feature on the theory that viewers have already been inundated with those pieces in the two weeks leading to the game.
"I've found that when we haven't done a Super Bowl and I've kind of watched people interact in terms of the pregame show, they always notice the stuff that's out of the ordinary," said Ackerson.
And in typical FOX fashion, Ackerson is thinking out of the box. For one thing, the network will continue the red carpet celebrity arrival coverage it introduced three years ago when it last carried the game.
This time, pregame show analyst Michael Strahan and Maria Menounos of "Access Hollywood" will have the honor of asking the stars who and what they're wearing as they enter Cowboys Stadium, as well as introducing Maroon 5 and Keith Urban before they perform.
"We'll see how it goes," said Ackerson. "Hopefully, it will have the success that our red carpet had the last time so that the next Super Bowl that we do in New York, we'll be able to kind of continue the trend."
FOX will continue the tradition of a pregame interview with President Obama -- except unlike in the last two years, where NBC's Matt Lauer and CBS' Katie Couric sat down with the president, Ackerson will have talk show host Bill O'Reilly, of FOX News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor," go at it with Obama.
And given that advance publicity is billing the scheduled 4:45 p.m. ET session as "O'Reilly vs. Obama," the plan seems to be to hope for fireworks.
"I believe that Bill's going to do a fantastic job with the interview," said Ackerson. "I think he will take a different tangent than maybe Matt and Katie took with their interviews. That was my hope going into it."
And speaking of fireworks, pregame show co-host Terry Bradshaw, who led the Steelers to four Super Bowl titles in the 1970's, will sit down with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
The once and current Pittsburgh signal callers haven't seen eye-to-eye recently, parting company over Bradshaw's occasionally harsh commentaries on Roethlisberger's off-field conduct. And while pistols at dawn aren't likely, you get the sense that Ackerson wouldn't be completely broken up if their discussion creates some heat.
Finally, the pregame will conclude with a reading of the Declaration of Independence, a continuation of a tradition started in 2002, when FOX aired the first Super Bowl after the 9-11 tragedy.
The network has enlisted NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as a host of current and former NFL players, including Hall of Famer Art Donovan, an ex-Marine who saw World War II action at Iwo Jima.
Bradshaw and Strahan will be joined by their usual compatriots, co-host Curt Menefee and analysts Howie Long and Jimmy Johnson with air time scheduled for 2 p.m. ET.