Cute animals go up against the Super Bowl

Akron Beacon JournalJanuary 31, 2014 

Puppy Bowl X

Atmosphere at the Puppy Bowl X at the Discovery Times Square Experience in New York on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014.

MARK VON HOLDEN — Discovery Communications

  • Tune in

    Kitten Bowl, Noon Sunday, Hallmark Channel

    Puppy Bowl, 3 p.m. Sunday, Animal Planet

    Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge 4 p.m. Sunday, NBC

    Fish Bowl, 6 p.m. Sunday, Nat Geo Wild

    Also, a different kind of animal attraction ...

    “Zombie Bowl,” 9 a.m. Sunday, AMC: Call it the Super Bowl (day) shuffle – here’s your chance to catch up on the first two seasons of “The Walking Dead.”

While the Super Bowl on Sunday will draw a big audience, an increasingly widespread competing tactic is to appeal to animal lovers. Why? Because, as the Puppy Bowl is so often promoted, critters are “really freaking cute.” In fact, it seems impossible for Animal Planet to talk about the dogs running on a small football field without assuring us of “excess cuteness” or breaking out the “cute cam.” (See more at www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/puppy-bowl or check out the videos from previous games on YouTube.)

But the Puppy Bowl, which will air its 10th version at 3 p.m. Sunday on Animal Planet, is getting more and more competition. Where the Puppy Bowl has a halftime show featuring cats, Hallmark Channel is cranking up an entire Kitten Bowl ( www.hallmarkchannel.com/kittenbowl) at noon Sunday. The three-hour telecast promises “the greatest feline showdown in cable television history.”

But the strangest (and potentially most watchable) animal-themed Super Bowl Sunday telecast may be that of the Fish Bowl, on National Geographic Wild. Beginning at 6 p.m. Sunday, the network promises four hours of a fish swimming in a bowl. And, as far as I can tell, just a fish swimming in a bowl. See more at http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/wild/fish-bowl.

It’s like a yule log for the Super Bowl. Or a tribute to Andy Warhol. And there’s a replay at 10 p.m.!

The irresistibility of animals has been known since long before there was an Animal Planet; one ’90s sitcom included a fictional TV hit consisting of puppies playing in a box. At the same time, though, we’re a long way from people giving up their mid-winter football-watching parties in favor of ones built around cavorting creatures.

But some of those animal telecasts are during the pregame blather. And if the game itself is a blowout, or you hit a long stretch of commercials you’ve already seen, won’t you be wondering what the fish is up to?

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