Scott D. Pierce: Look for Utah figure skater Nathan Chen during NBC’s Super Bowl coverage
<b>Sports on TV • </b>NBC is going to spend time hyping the Olympics on Super Bowl Sunday.
Nathan Chen performs during the men's free skate event at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Football fans who tune in to NBC’s coverage of Super Bowl LII to find out every last detail about the teams involved — be they Eagles or Vikings, Jaguars or Patriots — also are going to learn a thing or two about figure skating, the slalom and luge.
Yes, Utah figure skater Nathan Chen will be featured in NBC’s Super Bowl Sunday coverage.
“We’re going to spend a lot of Super Bowl Sunday weaving the Olympics into our telecast,” said Fred Gaudelli, the executive producer of NBC’s NFL telecasts. “We’ll be introducing some of the athletes, some of the big stories from Pyeongchang into our Super Bowl programming.”
Why? Because the Super Bowl is the single most-watched television event of the year. By far. And NBC has invested billions in rights fees, along with hundreds of millions in production costs, in the Winter Olympics, so it comes as no surprise that the Super Bowl will be filled with advertising trying to get people to tune in to the Games.
“We’re going to take advantage of this huge platform on Super Bowl Sunday and kind of whet people’s appetites for the stories, for the beautiful scenery of South Korea and get them ready for that total Olympic experience,” Gaudelli said.
NBC is making much of the fact that this will be the first time since 1992 that one network has telecast both the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics. CBS did the double 26 years ago, which — coincidentally — is the only other time the Super Bowl has been played in Minneapolis.
NBC is hoping the whole thing seems, well, seamless.
“Mike Tirico, who is our [Olympics] prime-time host, who has also hosted ‘Football Night in America’ this year, won’t be at the Super Bowl,” Gaudelli said. “He will be in Pyeongchang, but he’ll have a presence in our pregame show.”
In the Lindsey Vonn piece, the skier — Tirico in tow — visits her grandparents in Minneapolis. And it has a very NBC Olympics feel to it.
Hmmmm. Previewing the Olympics during the Super Bowl pregame shows should be … interesting. And maybe not exactly what football fans are expecting.
The folks at NBC aren’t exactly worried about offending football fanatics, because their research shows that most of the people who watch the Super Bowl are not big football fans.
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 million to 25 million viewers are regular NFL watchers, according to Gaudelli, “but the other 80 to 90 million people that are going to be there [are] not the people who watch [the NFL] every week — not the people who are into it all the time. So we’re going to try to take this opportunity with some unique promos. Tell some stories.”
A couple of those stories — a couple of the taped pieces — were screened for critics.
One of them was about Vonn; the other was about Utah’s Chen. And as we’ve come to expect from NBC, they’re sort of warm, fuzzy and heartfelt. They work — at least as far as Al Michaels, who’ll be calling the Super Bowl, is concerned.
“I look at the Olympic Games as something that’s still unbelievably exciting,” he said. “And we all know that people think maybe it’s too political, it costs too much money, etc., etc., etc. But you watch a piece like that, and … everybody always says, ‘Well, the world comes together.’”
There’s considerable speculation that Steve Young will replace Jon Gruden as ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” game analyst, but the former BYU quarterback said he doesn’t want the job.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Young stated flatly on radio station KNBR, “I cannot take a job where you disappear for four days a week for five months. … If I could do it from my backyard, sure, I’d do it.”
He also said this is the “third or fourth time” his name has come up for the job, but that he’s never had an interest in it.