Let's take a break from the GameStop saga and talk sports for a moment, courtesy of CNBC line producer and sports enthusiast (currently obsessed with the WNBA), Paul Amin.
A plea for a Saturday Super Bowl
"Some men see things as they are and ask 'why?' I dream things that never were and ask 'why not'?" -Robert F. Kennedy
This Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs will look to win their second straight Super Bowl. To make that happen they will have to knock off Tom Brady in his tenth Super Bowl appearance, going for his seventh win.
The Super Bowl routinely draws in over 100 million viewers in the U.S. and millions more across the world. There's plenty of talk these days about whether viewership--along with live sports and linear TV in general--has peaked, and how much further it could decline. But what if we could make the Super Bowl even bigger?
Why not play the game...on Saturday night?
I posed that question to the NFL. The league's spokesman, Brian McCarthy, told me that Super Bowl Sunday, and all the things that go with it, are a tradition that's now in its 55th year.
But maybe this is the year we break from tradition. After all, the 2020 season saw NFL games played on every single day of the week for the first time, either by design or necessity.
McCarthy said that Sunday night is the evening most people are at home, watching TV, as opposed to Saturday nights. I checked that with my old professor, Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University. He confirmed what McCarthy said, that Sunday night is the best night for TV, which is why HBO debuts its shows then. And Saturday is traditionally the worst, with notable exceptions like "The Love Boat" having great success on that night.
Which all makes sense--in a normal year. But not this year! Movie theaters, Broadway shows, and many restaurants, all of which would be typical Saturday night outings, are closed because of the pandemic. So wouldn't a Saturday night Super Bowl have been a ratings bonanza? Professor Thompson says yes--but probably no more than usual. "When you get to numbers like [100 million viewers] you're beginning to max out what the TV audience would ever be."
But what about internationally? What about nearly three billion people in China and India who could enjoy the Big Game on Sunday instead of Monday morning their time? What about Western Europeans who could more easily watch a game ending between 2 and 3 a.m. their time on a Sunday rather than a Monday?
And what about younger school children whose bedtimes conflict with the end of the game? And all the people who have to be at work early on Monday morning?
This would have been the perfect year to run the experiment. But I guess to the NFL and the whole industry that's sprung up around the big game over the past six decades, the answer is: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Thank you, Paul! And enjoy the game, everybody--if you're staying up for it. -Kelly