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CBS Gears Up for Super Bowl

Jim Nantz and Tony Romo are pairing up for their first Super Bowl together when CBS airs the big game Feb. 3. It will be Nantz’s fifth time doing play-by-play for the Super Bowl, and Romo’s first time doing analysis for the NFL championship.

Tracy Wolfson and Evan Washburn provide sideline reportage.

“I think they’re the best team in broadcast television,” said Sean McManus, CBS Sports chairman.

Related: CBS Airs Complaints in Dispute With Nielsen

Super Bowl LIII, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, will be CBS’ 20th.

Before kickoff, CBS will have seven hours of pre-game, including The Super Bowl Today, Romo-hosted Tony Goes to the Super Bowl, That Other Pregame Show and Road to the Super Bowl. James Brown, Boomer Esiason, Bill Cowher, Phil Simms, Nate Burleson and Ian Eagle host Super Bowl Today.

For the first time, CBS will stream the Bowl on OTT platform CBS All Access.

Romo said he aims to offer a true player perspective of the Super Bowl. “I really hope that we get a chance to show you what it really means to players,” he said. “The nerves of this are to the nth degree.”

Brown also promised a personal touch in the broadcast. “There are human elements to this that are special,” he said, “and they define people’s lives.”

Nantz related how he was the young guy in the booth early in his career, and now gets to be a senior team member. “It’s the first time in my career where it’s flipped,” he said. “[Romo] is going to be the best for a long, long time.”

Joe Ianniello, president and acting CEO of CBS Corporation, said the planning for Super Bowl LIII began three years ago, right after CBS aired Super Bowl L. “There’s nothing that brings the whole company together like the Super Bowl,” he said at the CBS Broadcast Center in Manhattan.

That includes entertainment and news. Kelly Kahl, CBS Entertainment president, said the network will air Magnum P.I. after the AFC championship game January 20, that episode featuring a guest appearance from former NFL star Eddie George. After the Super Bowl ends, competition series The World’s Best will air. Contestants show their skills in a wide array of talent acts. James Corden hosts, and Drew Barrymore, RuPaul and Faith Hill are judges.

“While we might be the Hollywood folks, we love football,” said Kahl.

The NFL has not announced the halftime acts for the Super Bowl, and McManus wasn’t saying either. He did say CBS had talks with the White House about an interview with the president, but was not ready to announce anything. 

On the news side, president Susan Zirinsky said the newsroom is excited to cover the game and all the news that surrounds it. “It’s so different from what we have to do on a day-to-day basis,” she said. “It’s joyous.”

Hours before the big game, Face the Nation will be live from Atlanta, offering a mix of football and politics.

Zirinsky spoke on her third day in the news president’s job. “So I know everything,” she quipped.

Jo Ann Ross, president and chief advertising revenue officer, said the telecast is 90% sold out, with the beer, soda, automobile, movies and tech segments gobbling spots. “We have seen some of the creative already,” said Ross, “and it is Super Bowl-worthy.”

McManus promised an array of cutting-edge tech for the Bowl. The telecast will have 115 total cameras. That includes four cameras showing augmented reality graphics, multiple 8K cameras, and 16 4K cameras. Over 25 cameras will flank each end zone, and 28 pylon cams will shoot from the touchdown zone as well.

“The broadcast will look as innovative as any game in history,” said McManus. 

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.