This image released by CBS shows Justin Hartley, as Colter Shaw, in a scene from "Tracker," premiering Feb. 11. (Michael Courtney/CBS via AP)

Super Bowl More of a Showcase For Media Companies Instead of the Network

Joe Reedy READ TIME: 3 MIN.

Super Bowl Sunday used to be the one day for a network to showcase its sports division and launch a new show.

That is not the case anymore.

With media consolidation, the networks are now sharing the stage with its corporate siblings. That's been the case this week as Paramount showcased various programming and originated many of its shows from Las Vegas.

"The Super Bowl is the biggest media event of the year. I think you'd be crazy not to maximize it," said Josh Line, the EVP/Chief Brand Officer for Paramount Global. "I think we're doing it in our own unique way."

CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus, who will retire in April, has routinely touted CBS' synergy within Paramount. The best example is the sports division teaming up with Nickelodeon for NFL programming, including Sunday's Super Bowl.

CBS Sports was not alone in delivering programming from Las Vegas this week.

CBS had four sets overlooking the fountains at The Bellagio on the Las Vegas strip as its base of operations. Besides using it for CBS Sports Network programming, it was also the location for "CBS Mornings," "The CBS Evening News with Norah O'Donnell" and "The Talk."

"The Drew Barrymore Show," "Entertainment Tonight" and "Inside Edition" also originated from Las Vegas this week. Paramount also put its trademark mountain on the strip, with an "Expedition Vegas" display at The Mirage.

When CBS had its last Super Bowl three years ago, Paramount used the game to promote the Paramount Plus streaming service, which debuted one month later. Paramount said in its third-quarter earnings release the service had 63 million subscribers.

CBS reported double-digit growth for streaming of NFL games on Paramount Plus this season. Last year's Super Bowl on Fox averaged 7 million streams of the 115.1 million viewer average across all platforms.

Mike Benson, President and CMO of CBS, said this week's focus is more on total offerings than launching a new platform.

"It's the combination of linear and streaming that is very powerful for us," he said. "We see how well CBS can drive big live audiences to the television, but we also see how a lot of our shows perform well in streaming. I think the the company offering has become far more strategic and far more specific and works now across multiple platforms."

Super Bowl Sunday also gives CBS a chance to promote its television season, which kicks off this week after a five-month delay due to the writer and actor strikes last year.

"Tracker" – a drama based on the novel "The Never Game" – has the coveted post-Super Bowl spot.

"With the way the strikes have shifted the traditional timing of the fall TV season, it could turn out to be advantageous to have series launches in closer proximity to the game promoting those launches," said Andrew Wallenstein, president and chief media analyst of Variety Intelligence Platform.

Paramount's ad inventory on CBS, Nickelodeon, and streaming is sold out for Sunday, bringing the company over $500 million. It also comes when Paramount's future remains to be seen in an age of continued media consolidation.

Wallenstein says he expects Fox, CBS, and ABC/ESPN to follow Paramount's lead in years they have the Super Bowl in showcasing the company more than the network.

"There's no other question other companies will keep doing this in the future.," he said. "The more consolidated the media sector gets, the more promotional time viewers can expect the network with the broadcast rights to the Super Bowl to reserve for the many corporate siblings their parent company deem priorities to showcase."



by Joe Reedy

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