That said, Gaudelli doesn’t expect much to happen. “Since Thanksgiving much of that has dissipated,” he said. But if NFL players decided to kneel, the EP says the sportscasters will identify the players, provide a brief reason why they’re kneeling, and “then get on with the game.”
While the NFL has been slammed by the media for declining ratings, last year’s Super Bowl drew 111.9 million viewers, just shy of 2015’s record 114.4M. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell championed TV’s dominance yesterday to the press.
When asked by TCA reporters about declining NFL attendance, Gaudelli chalked it up to the various means by which fans can watch games: on mobile, on tablets, etc. In addition, there’s bad weather. “It was 4 degrees at a Giants game. When they’re 2-13 in the season, why would you go?” he said. In addition, at warmer locations there are food malls and game centers for kids adjacent to stadiums. Hence, fans will vacate their seats for distractions during the game.
“Most seats have been sold,” asserted play-by-play caster Al Michaels, who’ll be doing play-by-play for his 10th Super Bowl, behind only former CBS and Fox announcer Pat Summerall (11).
Gaudelli has also been an EP on Thursday Night Football, the rights of which are up for grabs after being split last season between CBS and NBC, with simulcasts on NFL Network and streaming on Amazon and Twitter. When asked for his speculation where those rights would land, Gaudelli said, “Those negotiations are just beginning.”
Super Bowl LII airs on February 4 from the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on NBC, with the Winter Olympics starting four days later. The last time both the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics were so close was in 1992; no other broadcast network has ever carried both events in a given year.