Watch: Animal-Themed Programming Bookends ‘Super Bowl LII’

Pet lovers will have plenty of animal-themed programming to cuddle up to leading into and following Super Bowl LII this Sunday. 

While the big game between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles doesn’t officially kick off until 6 p.m. on NBC, viewers can get into the football spirit all afternoon long with Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl and Hallmark Channel’s Kitten Bowl.

The three-hour Kitten Bowl V pet adoption event will premiere at noon on Sunday and will feature displaced kittens rescued from the country’s most recent national disasters seeking the to win the “Feline Football” trophy, according to Hallmark officials. Animal advocate Beth Stern will host the event, with Boomer Esiason calling play-by-play action.

Hallmark will partner with the North Shore Animal League America to host 500 adoption parties for the event, which over its tenure has inspired the adoption of more than 10,000 animals, according to the network.

At 3 p.m. on Sunday, puppies will take the field for Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl XIV. The two-hour special will feature 90 adoptable puppy “players” running around chasing soft footballs and chew toys in a bone-shaped stadium featuring more than a dozen cameras, according to network officials.

Animal Planet has teamed with 48 different animal shelters and rescue organizations from 25 U.S. states and territories to field its lineup of puppies.

Animal Planet will begin the festivities with a Puppy Bowl pre-game show at 2 p.m., said the network. 

After Super Bowl LII is over, animal lovers can tune into Nat Geo Wild for the return of its Safari Live series beginning at 10 p.m. – kicking off a five-day run for the wildlife show. The network will showcae in real time wildlife action from Kenya’s Maasai Mara and South Africa’s iconic Sabi Sands Game Reserve, according to network officials. 

Nat Geo Wild’s Safari Live drew an average of 160,000 viewers for its initial run in 2017.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.