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CBS ready for Super Bowl 50

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CBS Sports announcers Jim Nantz (left) and Phil Simms spoke before the Super Bowl in 2013.Scott Halleran

Based on recent ratings trends, it's safe to estimate that the Patriots-Chiefs AFC divisional-round playoff game Saturday afternoon will draw around 30 million viewers nationwide.

I don't want to spend too much time gazing past what could be a doozy of a matchup between New England's reigning Super Bowl champs and a Kansas City team that has won 11 straight.

But this matchup — and the television home of this matchup — did cause me to glance a few weeks deeper into the postseason, when the same network that has Saturday's game, CBS, will broadcast Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7.


Since approximately 30 million football viewers are liable to have approximately 30 million different opinions on their viewership experience, I wanted to loft a question about the Super Bowl to you:

If the decision were solely up to you — imagine that you had the kind of power Roger Goodell seems to believe he has — which network would you choose to carry the game?

The choice here would be a relatively easy one: NBC. The "Football Night in America/Sunday Night Football" block of programming is a superb television experience.

I could sometimes do without Bob Costas's filibusters on whatever the controversial topic of the week happened to be. And Cris Collinsworth can grate on occasion; he spent a little too much time in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIX dwelling on the subtext of Deflategate rather than focusing on the instant-classic finish that was revealing itself on the field.

But those are nitpicks. I'd be fine if NBC, with Al Michaels and Collinsworth on the call, had the Super Bowl every year. Curious whether I'm in the consensus among the 30 million of us with opinions.

As the schedule falls, though, it's CBS's turn this year, with Fox having next year's Super Bowl and NBC coming around again in 2018.


CBS, which was the home of Super Bowl I and will be broadcasting its 19th Super Bowl this year, announced some of its coverage plans this week. To no one's surprise — or, presumably, excitement — Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will be on the call, their fourth Super Bowl together.

The most interesting revelation so far is the planned use of a high-resolution replay system that will give viewers a 360-degree perspective on plays that are under review (or perhaps should be). The network has strung 36 cameras around the upper deck of Levi's Stadium that offer the capability of pausing on an isolated moment and revolving around the play to see exactly what happened within fractions of a second.

The goal lines will feature eight custom-molded pylons containing 16 cameras to monitor plays along the sidelines and end zones.

The official pregame show, "Super Bowl Today," will begin at 2 p.m. and run four hours. James Brown will host, with Boomer Esiason, Tony Gonzalez, Bart Scott, and Bill Cowher in their usual roles as analysts.

But the network's coverage will begin at 11 a.m., with two hour-long NFL Films features — "Super Bowl 50: Before They Were Pros" and "The Road to the Super Bowl" — kicking off the seven hours of pregame coverage. An hour-long program on the All-Iron team — Simms's All-Madden Team knockoff — will serve as the lead-in to the pregame show.


Simpson a loss

Jim Simpson, the legendary NBC broadcaster who brought credibility to fledgling ESPN when he was hired by the network in 1979, died Wednesday in Arizona at the age of 88. Simpson built a résumé long before ESPN was even a twinkle in founder Bill Rasmussen's eye. Among his achievements during his 16 years at NBC (1964-79) were calling the World Series, Olympics, and Wimbledon. He also did play-by-play for Super Bowl I for NBC Radio. Among his broadcast partners at ESPN was a pre-shtick Dick Vitale. "He brought tremendous credibility to ESPN in our early days, doing whatever was needed to help build the network,'' said Rasmussen in a statement. "Jim was a television legend." . . . ESPN announced Thursday that it has re-signed one of its most appealing personalities, Michelle Beadle, to a multiyear contract. Beadle, who returned to the network from NBC in March 2014, will continue to host "SportsNation" alongside with Max Kellerman and Marcellus Wiley, but the show will shift from ESPN2 to the 4 p.m. time slot on ESPN. She will also co-host a radio show with writer Ramona Shelburne, which will debut Feb. 14 . . . Chris Mannix, who has covered the NBA for Sports Illustrated since 2003, is leaving the magazine to join Adrian Wojnarowski's new project, The Vertical, at Yahoo! Sports.

Fly in the ointment?

It's certainly an unscientific survey, but Tim Neverett, an Emerson grad who joined WEEI's Red Sox broadcast team in late December after seven years of calling Pirates games, received mostly positive reviews from Pittsburgh fans offering their farewells on social media. That's encouraging, but it was also interesting to hear that he apparently has a knack for getting excited about fly balls that ultimately end up somewhere shy of the bleachers. This was a maddening habit of Jerry "Way Back" Trupiano's during his otherwise enjoyable 14 years (1993-2006) on Red Sox radio broadcasts. Here's hoping Neverett proves better at judging fly balls than Trupiano or, for that matter, Hanley Ramirez.


Chad Finn can be reached at