Puppy Bowl is a Can’t Miss Treat

It’s certainly tough for networks to counter program against the Super Bowl. This year’s event drew a household audience of 106.5 million homes, setting the all time viewing record, eclipsing the previous mark of over 105 million homes set in 1983 for the final episode of MASH. In the early years of the Super Bowl, it was not a difficult task as the game was still played in the afternoon, just like any other week during the NFL season and had not become the event it is today. However, once the Super Bowl attained spectacle status, alternative programming largely revolved around sacrificial repeats by other networks. It was as if the rest of the industry gave up and threw up the white flag and surrendered.
However, there are some networks that have not. The annual Puppy Bowl broadcast by cable channel Animal Planet has become a treat to watch on Super Bowl Sunday. This year’s event was Puppy Bowl VI and featured a new roster of puppy stars competing in Animal Planet Stadium.
This is an example of a creative marketing stunt that provides sponsors with a unique promotional platform, a cable network audience and rebroadcasts during the actual Super Bowl. Scheduled for its first airing from 3-5 pm on Super Bowl Sunday, Puppy Bowl VI gave fans, especially those households where Super Bowl parties are just getting under way, an entertaining alternative to the mind-numbing pre-game shows that start at 9 a.m. Sponsors of the event included Pedigree dog food and the Twizzler’s® blimp, piloted by a crew of hamsters.
The format is simple. An all-star lineup of rambunctious, rescue pups, run around a faux football field, complete with helmet-cam water bowls. As the puppies collide and tackle one another, a human referee controls the action. Viewers are treated to a variety of breeds all competing on the Animal Planet Stadium field. And, for the halftime show, Animal Planet spares no expense. Instead of bringing out a retread rock and roll band 30 years past their prime, a group of cute kittens provide the entertainment.
Animal Planet is not the only network that has used canines to provide entertaining programming alternatives to football. While the Puppy Bowl has become a mainstay on Super Bowl Sunday, NBC has also led the way with the National Dog Show Presented by Purina, which airs every Thanksgiving immediately following the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and smack dab against the annual Detroit Lions massacre on Fox.
Hosted by John O’Hurley and David Frei, this event is the most widely viewed dog show in America, reaching an audience of nearly 20 million viewers each year and is rapidly becoming an important American holiday tradition. I had the pleasure of assisting my former colleague Steve Griffith in publicizing the show in 2005 and 2006.
The event is hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia during its annual cluster of dog shows which are sanctioned by the American Kennel Club (AKC). The show attracts over 2,000 of the top show dogs from across the country with over 150 different breeds and varieties compete for best of Breed, First in Group and the coveted title of Best in Show.

So if a network is looking for alternative programming to a major sporting event like the Super Bowl, it should look no further than man’s best friend. However, unlike Drew Brees, the winner of the Puppy Bowl doesn’t need a trip to Disney World; they just need a loving home.

Tom Cosentino

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One Response to “Puppy Bowl is a Can’t Miss Treat”

  1. kevin shippy Says:

    I like it, Tom. FYI, daughter Rachel now blogging for Ladies Home Journal’s “Ladies Lounge.” One week focused on food, the following on pets!

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