Cable nets offer Super Bowl halftime alternatives

Wed Jan 30, 2008 10:16am EST
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By Steven Zeitchik

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - For fans unmoved by the prospect of a Tom Petty Super Bowl halftime show, the cable industry has an answer. Many answers, in fact.

There's grown men stuffing themselves with eggs and ham. There's Deion Sanders skirmishing with his wife over household chores. There's kittens squaring off on a football field.

After five years of letting the Super Bowl halftime show air pretty much uncontested, networks are again taking aim at the extravaganza. Sensing vulnerability in the NFL's decision to cast the rock musician known for "Free Fallin"' and "American Girl" as its headline entertainment, nets are in a counter programming frenzy.

"We see an opportunity at halftime because young viewers may not be into watching a musical performance suited to older guys," Spike TV representative David Schwarz said. "To get the competitive juices flowing, we have a better idea."

Spike's idea is to show an eating contest featuring the likes of Eater X, Tim "Gravy" Brown" and rising star (in the eating world, anyway) Joey Chesnut. Spike will telecast an undercard of hard-boiled-egg consumption (world record: 65) as well as a ham-eating main event. The network will cut to the competition as soon as the first-half Super Bowl whistle blows on Fox.


Oxygen will premiere the first episode of reality series "Deion & Pilar: Prime Time Love," in which viewers peek into the home life of flamboyant former athlete Deion Sanders more than two months ahead of the series' debut.

Like Spike, Oxygen will cut in to its regularly scheduled programming at the start of halftime and air the 22-minute show commercial free, in time for viewers to get back to the second half. "We have one of the biggest stars the NFL has ever turned out on our airwaves," Oxygen general manager Jason Klarman said. "A lot of people will be interested in both the game and in Deion."   Continued...

<p>Los Angeles Temptation Lauren Bergfeld (R) breaks away from New York Euphoria Jen Johnson (L) and Sheena Mariano during the third annual Lingerie Bowl football game in Los Angeles February 5, 2006. The game was aired locally on pay-per-view during halftime of the XL Super Bowl. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>